University of Tennessee football players A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams were told that they were under investigation for rape from head coach Butch Jones, before they heard it from the police.

According to the Tennesseean, Johnson learned it four hours before the police showed up to question him at the scene of the alleged crime. Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch reportedly told the Tennesseean that the “professional courtesy” calls are a common practice when police investigate crimes with Volunteer athletes.

The details of the courtesy calls, from the Tennesseean:

KPD detective Sam Brown, who serves as a liaison to the football team, alerted Jones to the investigation at 8:20 a.m on November 16, 2014 — about five hours after an initial 911 call reporting the rape allegations.

Jones then called Johnson at 8:22 a.m., according to cell phone records. An assistant coach contacted Williams, according to sources.  It is unclear from the cell phone records obtained by The Tennessean how the assistant coach learned of the police investigation.

Rausch called Jones at 8:38 a.m. — the first of four calls between the Knoxville police chief and the head UT football coach that day. Law enforcement experts not associated with the investigation called the calls “unusual” and said they were cause for concern.

The Tennesseean reports that law enforcement experts (not involved with the case) say that provided the advanced notice can give suspects time to clean up evidence and create an alibi for police.

With the police not arriving until four hours later, it would have given the accused players time to get stories together, and destroy any possible evidence. Not to mention that the calls may also violate state law, according to the Knox County DA.

“We cannot discuss the investigation of this case while the litigation is pending,” Assistant District Attorney Sean McDermott told the Tennesseean.

Whether the players are innocent or not, the look of Jones possibly trying to help cover up a crime is not a good look for him or the university.


About Harry Lyles Jr.

Harry Lyles Jr. is an Atlanta-based writer, and a Georgia State University graduate.