Former Tennessee senior defensive lineman Maurice Couch admitted to accepting impermissible cash benefits during his playing career in an interview with Tennessee Sports Radio on Monday morning.
Couch, who was speaking publicly for the first time since allegations surfaced about him accepting money from a man acting as a liaison for NFL agents in September, stated he accepted the money out of necessity to provide for his family.
"I'm not a traditional student-athlete," Couch said. "I'm married. I have a child. So the stuff they give us, if I was just a normal student-athlete, I believe it can help to a certain extent, but when you have a young one and your wife, there's more you have to bring to the table.
"I was at a point where I was going to lose my family, and me, I know I wouldn't be able to focus without knowing that my family would be taken care of. I used all my resources possible. I couldn't get any help, so as a father, I did what I felt like I had to for my family."
Couch, who transferred to Tennessee from Garden City C.C. after the 2010 season, said he had no family support and because of his money situation, his own family was at risk of being broken up.
"We don't have any family support in Tennessee," Couch said. "My family is in Florida, and her family is in Kansas, so she would have to go back to Kansas to have support and to have some stability."
The Orlando, Fla., native missed the Vols' final 11 games after being ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA, something he said was not easy to handle.
"It was tough watching because I never ever thought I'd be at home watching my boys play," Couch said. "But my wife, she helped me a lot through it. And the fact that I'm graduating, it kept me positive throughout the whole process."
Collegiate players receiving benefits has been a problem for the NCAA for years, but Couch said he doesn't think that players will ever stop accepting money.
"You have guys from all different backgrounds, especially if you grew up not having anything," Couch said. "You have this guy that will pop up in your face and say, 'You're a great athlete. I'm going to give you 10,000.' From having nothing and seeing that kind of money, of course you're going to take it. It happens all the time.
"A lot of guys still do it, and it's never going to stop. It's just a part of it."
Couch said he has been invited to the Senior Bowl, which will be played in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 25, 2014 and has been told by Tennessee head coach Butch Jones he is welcome to participate in UT's pro day.
"Probably not too many coaches would have done that," Couch said.
He also apologized to the fans and his teammates for any distraction the situation may have caused.
"I'm going to take full responsibility for what I did, and I don't have any regrets at all," Couch said. "I just felt I owed it to the fans, and everybody should know I'm not going to sit in a closet and hide from everybody and let everybody else take care of it for me. As far as being a distraction, I wanted to apologize for it."