- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The University of Tennessee is being investigated by federal authorities over a complaint about the university’s response to a sexual assault report.

Chancellor Jimmy Cheek told students, faculty and staff Thursday in a letter that the complaint had been filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

“Privacy laws prevent the university from disclosing the details of the complaint, I can assure you that we will cooperate fully with OCR as it investigates the complaint,” Cheek wrote.

The chancellor also says the university’s interim policy on sexual conduct and relationship violence put into place last August now will be the final policy effective Aug. 19.

The Knoxville News Sentinel first reported the investigation.

The department made public in May 2014 a list of 55 schools under investigation for Title IX complaints stemming from sexual violence, a figure that has more than doubled. As of June 3, the agency had 129 open sexual assault cases at 116 schools across the country. Those complaints are not criminal cases, but if a university is found to be in violation of Title IX, it risks losing federal funding, a massive piece of most schools’ budgets.

Tennessee has had some off-field issues in recent months involving its football team. The most notable featured the indictments of former linebacker A.J. Johnson and suspended defensive back Michael Williams in February on aggravated rape charges. Both were suspended in November, the day before they were named as subjects of a rape investigation. Johnson has since graduated and completed his eligibility.

Football coach Butch Jones also dismissed running back Treyvon Paulk from the team in September after a police report that he hit a woman in the mouth at a party, though he wasn’t arrested because the woman declined to press charges. Jones said “there’s a possibility” Paulk eventually could return to the team.

Former defensive back Riyahd Jones was named in February as a suspect in an ongoing rape investigation in which no arrests have been made or charges have been filed, though the woman said the incident happened after Jones already had left the team. Wide receiver Von Pearson is suspended from the team after Knoxville Police named him a suspect in a rape investigation.

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