Oliver cited for theft after shoplifting
On the heels of three players being arrested last week on attempted armed robbery charges, Tennessee has another player in trouble with the law.
Freshman defensive back Nyshier Oliver, who was redshirting this season, was cited for theft after shoplifting at a Knoxville mall on Nov. 7, only hours before Tennessee faced Memphis later that night, according to a Knox County Sheriff's Department report.
According to police, Oliver was spotted putting a brown Polo shirt valued at approximately $110 into a shopping bag. He was cited at 1:45 p.m., and Tennessee's game that night kicked off at 7 p.m.
Oliver's punishment was handled internally, but he was taken off the dress roster for that game and banned from team activities, according to Tennessee athletic department spokesperson Tiffany Carpenter.
Four days after Oliver's run-in with the law, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin went on the SEC coaches teleconference and praised his team for not having any arrests in 11 months.
Then early the next morning, freshmen Nu'Keese Richardson, Mike Edwards and Janzen Jackson were arrested and charged with attempting to rob two people sitting in a car outside a convenience store near campus.
Vols coaches are holding out hope that the charges against Jackson may still be dropped, although Kiffin wouldn't comment specifically Tuesday on the chances of Jackson returning to the team.
"We don't have all [Jackson's] information in," Kiffin said. "I can't get into too much detail with it. But the easiest thing to look at is that he was released right away and was treated differently in this matter. You can tell that by what has come out. I can't get into too much more detail than that until we get the information in."
Following his arrest, Jackson's bond was reduced and he was released on his own recognizance. The other two players had to post bond before being released.
Jackson is also one of the better freshman players in the SEC and has been a key component in the Vols' defense. He hasn't played in the last two games but had started in all but the opener at free safety prior to his suspension for the Memphis game. None of the three players arrested last week made the trip for the Ole Miss game.
Kiffin said Jackson's suspension for the Memphis game was an administrative suspension, but sources have told ESPN.com that a failed drug test was one of the factors that led to Jackson's suspension.
Kiffin called it a sad day in having to dismiss Richardson and Edwards but said the team was more important than any one or two players.
"Our No. 1 rule is to protect the team," Kiffin said. "As the head coach, I have to make decisions that sometimes you don't want to make. It was a sad day yesterday for those two kids. I wish them the best of luck. They obviously made a very poor decision. We can't allow that to be a part of our team. That decision-making can't be anywhere near what we are doing.
"The last thing I want is to have something like that go on and keep people around who do that, then go in on someone's couch and say, 'When you come here, we're going to have a great culture. This is the best place for your son.' I had to make the best decision for our team," he said.
Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com.