Former Tennessee coaches are denying claims by Houston Texans running back Arian Foster that he received "money on the side" during his college career with the Vols from 2005-08, via the News and Observer.
Both Foster's former head coach at Tennessee, Philip Fulmer, and his ex-offensive coordinator, David Cutcliffe, were critical of the claims Foster made in an interview for an upcoming documentary. Foster claims he received money to pay for food and rent from the Vols, advocating for NCAA change during and after the interview.
Cutcliffe, now the head coach at Duke, strongly denied Foster's claims Tuesday.
"That may have been as weak of interview as I've heard," Cutcliffe said of the Foster interview. "Arian never looked hungry."
That denial was specifically in response to Foster's claim that coaches bought him and "four or five" other players 50 tacos after games.
When asked if scholarships pay for food and/or rent, Cutcliffe bolstered his stance.
"Yes, it pays for food and rent," he said. "On gameday, when you go back to your dorm, you usually got $15 in meal money, and you could buy, I don't know, 10 tacos maybe.
"As long as there's the amount of media we have and the opportunity, you're going to I guess see protests or whatever. As long as I've been around it, and it's a long time, longer than sometimes than I even think, athletes have been treated pretty well. I don't see anybody getting abused. I don't drive a brand-new Lexus, I drive a nice car because I choose to. I heard that, I don't know what that had to do with the price of tea anywhere."
Fulmer, who was the Vols' head coach from 1992-2009, also released a statement Sunday. The statement isn't as strong as Cutcliffe's denial, though Fulmer's does assert Tennessee's compliance. Via the AP:
"As the head coach at Tennessee for 17 years, I took great pride in having a program that was NCAA compliant, as did our staff and administration," Fulmer said in a statement released to the Associated Press on Sunday. "If we knew of a violation, big or small, we reported it."
Though a producer of the yet-to-be-released documentary, Andrew Muscato, said Foster neither indicated how much money he was paid nor by whom back in the February interview, the comments are untimely for Tennessee.
A week prior, Yahoo! Sports reported that Tennessee defensive lineman Maurice Couch and former quarterback Tyler Bray, among players at other schools, received illegal benefits from a runner for an unnamed agent. Couch has already been ruled ineligible as Tennessee investigates the allegations.
More broadly, players at Georgia and Georgia Tech sparked national interest when they wore "APU" on their wrist tape this past weekend, an acronym for "All Players United" in protest of the NCAA's treatment of its athletes. National College Players Association president Ramogi Huma has already said players will continue to sport "APU" designations during games, as well as tweet the hashtags #APU and #AllPlayersUnited during nationally televised games.