No good deed goes unpunished.
Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes learned that the hard way.
According to a report from the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Barnes was hit with an NCAA Level III violation, one of 11 violations the Volunteers self-reported in 2017.
His sin? He took money out of his own pocket to pay an assistant he felt was under-compensated.
The News-Sentinel obtained records documenting Tennessee's self-reported violations. Barnes' occurred when he used his own money to pay assistant coach Des Oliver.
"It was important to me that Des Oliver made the same amount of money as fellow assistant Michael Schwartz," Barnes told USA TODAY Network - Tennessee. “I just felt those two positions needed to be equal. They felt it wasn’t in the budget. I just said, ‘I am going to pay it myself.’”
Barnes openly told his supervisor about the payments, not knowing he had violated an NCAA rule. When the supervisor informed the compliance office of a potential violation, Barnes stopped supplementing Oliver's salary.
The SEC and NCAA accepted Tennessee's response, which included educating Barnes on the rule and self-reporting. They won't be punished.
“The point is, I wanted him to be paid the same as the other assistants, because I know how hard he works,” Barnes said. “I still think those guys should be paid more money. When (former athletic director John Currie) came in, they fixed it. It’s equal now. But for a year, I did it. He works his butt off. It was important to me that he knows how much we all appreciate him.”
First of all, on principle, the fact that this is a violation is absurd. Rules like these don't help the NCAA's case with public perception.
However, thankfully good sense prevailed and Barnes wasn't punished further.