NCAA visits North prospect

Ju'Wan James

Ju'Wan James

North Gwinnett High School officials confirmed on Wednesday that the NCAA visited the school to talk to football player Ja'Wuan James.

The NCAA is investigating the University of Tennessee's football recruiting practices and whether the SEC school used inappropriate recruiting tactics. James was recruited by Tennessee this fall and has committed to the Volunteers' program.

"I wasn't in the meeting, so I don't know what took place," North athletic director Mark Karen said. "It's something we asked them whether it was about our kids or Tennessee. The NCAA made it clear it's about Tennessee and not our kids."

North Gwinnett head football coach Bob Sphire was unable to comment on the NCAA investigation.

"I'm not able to comment at this time," Sphire said. "It's a confidentiality issue."

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound James is rated the No. 1 offensive lineman in Georgia and is one of several recruits who have been visited by the NCAA in recent weeks, according to various published reports.

A significant portion of the investigation is focused on the use of Tennessee hostesses to lure recruits to the Knoxville, Tenn., campus. A story in the New York Times on Tuesday said hostesses traveled nearly 200 miles to attend a high school game in South Carolina that featured three Tennessee recruits. The hostesses, who are part of a formal group at the university, are considered members of the university and cannot recruit players off campus. Recruiting a player off campus violates NCAA rules.

Tennessee head football coach Lane Kiffin flew to the North Gwinnett campus in a helicopter for the Oct. 16 game against Northview. North Gwinnett officials confirmed there were no hostesses with him in the helicopter.

Kiffin took over as Tennessee's head coach in last December and since then has made waves in the SEC, most notably with remarks toward Florida head coach Urban Meyer. Tennessee has committed at least six secondary NCAA violations, which are unintentional violations that provide minimal advantage, since Kiffin became head coach.