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Conduct case against ex-Tennessee player A.J. Johnson dismissed

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- An administrative law judge has dismissed a University of Tennessee conduct case against former Volunteers football player A.J. Johnson. The ruling has no bearing on Johnson's upcoming criminal trial on aggravated rape charges.

Katrice Jones Morgan, who serves as the university's assistant dean of student affairs and director of diversity and inclusion, ruled Monday the school no longer has jurisdiction in the student conduct case because Johnson graduated in December 2014.

The university could've placed a "disciplinary hold" on Johnson's record, preventing him from graduating, but instead granted Johnson his degree and allowed him to graduate in a commencement ceremony for football players.

The university plans to appeal the ruling, which came in response to a motion filed by Johnson's attorney.

Johnson and former teammate Michael Williams face aggravated rape charges in connection with a November 2014 incident in Knoxville.

Both players were suspended from the football team in November 2014 and indicted in February 2015.

Morgan's ruling notes "the university neither placed a disciplinary hold on his record nor imposed an interim suspension to postpone the awarding of his degree and thereby preserve jurisdiction."

Bill Ramsey, a lawyer for the school, said the university "respectfully disagrees" with the decision and is preparing an appeal. Ramsey said federal student privacy law prevents the school from discussing the matter further.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel first reported the ruling.

A lawsuit filed last month in federal court in Nashville says Tennessee has violated Title IX regulations and created a "hostile sexual environment" through a policy of indifference toward assaults by student-athletes. The suit has eight unidentified women as plaintiffs, and one of them says she was raped by Johnson and Williams.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.