Bits ‘n pieces: Tennessee track loses star before he arrives

Marvin Westwestwords

Tennessee’s track team has an empty space for what might have been.

Almost-a-Vol Randolph Ross, 21, an Olympic gold medalist and twice NCAA champion at 400 meters while representing North Carolina A&T, won’t be transferring and running for his dad’s new team this spring.

Coach Duane Ross

The Athletics Integrity Unit imposed a three-year world suspension for violation of the whereabouts rule, a fundamental in the fight against doping in track and field.

Elite athletes are required to provide anti-doping authorities detailed lists of where they’ll be so testers can reach them without notice to collect blood and urine samples. The organization says information about Ross was three times incorrect.

“It’s not about whether a test comes back negative or not,” Ross said. “It was about the paperwork that wasn’t filed correctly. The whole thing came down to being my fault.”

Nobody has charged Ross with using performance-enhancing drugs. He has been tested a dozen or more times.

The Athletics Integrity Unit did charge Ross with tampering with the doping control process.

Ross once used his phone to send an email with information about where he would be. USA Track and Field got it. AIU apparently didn’t.

AIU says Randolph “admitted that he altered a system-generated email” to try and avoid a third whereabouts failure. The great quarter-miler said he changed the date to align with an address change.

He will miss the 2024 Paris Olympics. He will be 24 when the suspension ends. What happens in the meantime?

He told Track and Field News that he plans to finish his finance degree at North Carolina A&T. He will seek a real estate license. And he will keep training, though he is not allowed to train with any athletes or coaches affiliated with USATF – with one exception. He is still allowed to be coached by his father, UT coach Duane Ross.


Peyton Manning is the fifth former Tennessee athlete to earn the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. Previous recipients were Andy Kozar in 1977, Bob Johnson in 1993, John Trembley in 2000 and Heath Shuler in 2019.

The award is one-third based on college athletics and two-thirds on other accomplishments, including contributions to organizations, charitable and civic activities over the next 25 years. Officials did not factor in Peyton’s TV commercials.


NFL quarterback Josh Dobbs keeps popping up in unexpected places.

The former Vol was previously paid by Pittsburgh (2017-19, 2020-21), Jacksonville (2019) and Cleveland (2022) for being a spare part.

He signed with Detroit and was assigned to the practice squad. The Titans took him. In recent weeks, he has made his first start and thrown his first TD pass.

For your information only, Dobbs scored 29 on the Wonderlic smart test. Only as a point of reference, Dak Prescott and Ben Roethlisberger had 25s and Patrick Mahomes 24.


Did you see Texas-San Antonio quarterback Frank Harris in the Cure Bowl? Next season will be his fourth as a starter and seventh year in college. Don’t ask me how.

In 2022, he completed 71 percent for 3,865 yards, 31 TDs and seven interceptions. He ran for another 588 yards and nine scores. The UTSA record over the last two seasons is 23-4.

The Roadrunners are coming to Neyland Stadium on Sept. 23. If the Volunteer secondary remains as bad as it has been, Harris may set more records.


The NCAA has selected Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker as its next president, succeeding Mark Emmert who is dropping out with two years remaining on his contract.

Baker, 66, has been governor since January 2015. He played power forward for Harvard basketball in 1977-78.

“We are excited to welcome Governor Baker to the NCAA and eager for him to begin his work with our organization,” said Linda Livingstone, Baylor University president and chair of the NCAA Board of Governors.

“Governor Baker has shown a remarkable ability to bridge divides and build bipartisan consensus.

“As a former student-athlete, as husband to a former college gymnast, as father to two former college football players, Governor Baker is deeply committed to our student-athletes and enhancing their collegiate experience.”

Solving NIL issues may require a genius. There is no federal policy. The NCAA has noted “the untenable patchwork of individual state laws” is a problem.


Bobby Petrino, one of the brightest offensive minds in college football, is again making news. A few weeks ago, Razorbackfootball. he became offensive coordinator at UNLV, under new coach Barry Odom.

When the SEC headquarters did not erupt, Texas A&M paid more money and said Bobby can call plays for Jimbo and the Aggies. The Vols will see them on Oct. 14.

Petrino, 61, concedes he has not lived down the Arkansas incident. He was fired in 2012 after school officials said he lied about the motorcycle accident while riding with a woman hired by Petrino for Razorback football. He was slow to tell those concerned of their affair.

“Unfortunately, I will always get to carry that with me, how it ended there,” Petrino said. “I hurt a lot of people and let a lot of people down.”


Missouri football coach Eli Drinkwitz got a two-year contract extension and a raise to $6 million. His record is 17-19. He is 11-15 against SEC foes. He gets annual raises of a quarter of a million.

Defensive coordinator Blake Baker is paid $1.4. It is impolite to mention the 66 points scored by Tennessee.

Marvin West welcomes comments or questions from readers. His address is [email protected].

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