The University of Tennessee men’s basketball coaching staff made 97 impermissible phone calls from October 2007 through the present.
UT said that sloppy record keeping, miscommunication between the coaches and carelessness led to it filing four different self-reports of violations involving impermissible phone calls to the NCAA over the past three years.
Vols coach Bruce Pearl and assistant coaches Tony Jones and Steve Forbes all were issued letters of reprimand, and a number of recruiting restrictions were put into place as a result of the calls.
Documentation of the phone violations and self-reports were obtained from the UT athletic department under public records requests by the News Sentinel.
UT announced the restrictions pertaining to the calls — some already served — as part of its Sept. 10 letter of inquiry press conference.
Other self-imposed sanctions, not necessarily related to the phone violations, included: A $1.5 million reduction in Pearl’s salary over the next five years; a 25 percent reduction in the salary of the assistant coaches; a one-year suspension of off-campus recruiting privileges for Pearl and Forbes; a nine-month suspension of off-campus recruiting privileges for Jones and a three-month suspension of off-campus recruiting privileges for assistant Jason Shay.
The off-campus recruiting suspensions begin Friday.
Five current UT players were among the 12 then-prospects that Vols coaches contacted in excess or outside the period allowed by the NCAA: senior Melvin Goins, junior Renaldo Woolridge, sophomore Kenny Hall and freshmen Jordan McRae and Tobias Harris.
Sources in the UT athletic department said the players’ eligibility is not in question. The school said in its self-reports to the NCAA that the Vols did not gain a competitive advantage as a result of the impermissible calls.
Phone violations have become a common issue in NCAA compliance cases.
Dating back to Sept. 21, 2005, more than 700 cases in the NCAA database involve impermissible phone calls by athletic programs around the country.
UT has submitted four different reports to the NCAA that involve impermissible phone calls dating back to October 2007.
One report involves Goins, with the impermissible phone calls taking place on March 3, 2009, and again on March 31, 2009.
On March 3, Pearl left a two-minute voice message on Goins’ phone after Forbes had used up the allotted contact for that time period.
The second impermissible call to Goins, on March 31, was a result of Pearl calling both Goins and Goins’ mother on the same date. Calls to the parent of a recruit count as a contact, too.
In another report, there were 13 impermissible phone calls involving Woolridge in October 2007. Eight of the calls occurred on Oct. 17, the date Woolridge made his verbal commitment to attend UT. Of those eight calls, five were voicemails, and two resulted in no contact being made at all.
UT’s explanation was that the calls involving Woolridge were of the congratulatory nature.
In a third case, UT submitted paperwork showing 44 excessive calls to Hall his junior year of high school. Of the 44 calls, Jones made 39 and Pearl made five. Some of the calls were made to Hall’s parents.
In the fourth report, there were 38 impermissible calls made between Aug. 1, 2007 and July 30, 2009.
According to the report, 19 of the 38 calls were voicemails where no contact was made.
The calls involved 10 different athletes, including three current UT players: Hall, Harris and McRae. The cumulative number of impermissible calls to those UT athletes in that time frame was six.
In three of the four violations cases the Vols submitted to the NCAA , telephone software purchased by UT led to the discovery of the impermissible calls.
Brad Bertani, UT’s associate athletics director for compliance, said the school has used special phone software for all of its athletics programs since fall of 2009 to prevent violations.
The current systems in place are “ACS,” which was added this fall, and “Comply and Verify,” which was running approximately one year ago.
“With ACS . . . you put all of the recruits’ phone numbers in the database,’’ Bertani said. “The coaches go through the system to make a call, and if another coach has already made a call to that prospect and reached the limit, it will give a warning message that the allowable number of calls (to that prospect) has been reached.’’
Bertani said ACS also has an audit system that allows compliance via checks run through the phone log.
Comply and Verify software identifies impermissible calls after they have been made. Bertani said UT is running both systems in its efforts to be thorough.
The Comply and Verify software alerted UT to the 38 impermissible calls that involved 10 athletes, including the cumulative six calls made to McRae, Harris and Hall.
The other 32 calls in the report were made to then-prospects Elliot Williams (9), who attended Memphis; Chris Singleton (6), Florida State; Josh Selby (4), Kansas; Rico Pickett (4), Manhattan; Aaron Craft (7), Ohio State; Justin Martin (1), Xavier and Griffin McKenzie (1), Xavier.