Tennessee's secondary violations:
Former Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl said Wednesday he's happy for UT after reading the NCAA infractions report, but he's dissatisfied with his three-year show-cause penalty.
"I am pleased and relieved the University of Tennessee received no further penalties," Pearl said. "I accept responsibility for my actions, but I am disappointed with the length of the show-cause penalty."
Pearl, who was fired along with three assistants on March 21, plans to say more today at a press conference at his home.
While Pearl kept a stiff upper lip, former UT associate coach Tony Jones expressed dismay after reading the infractions report.
"The final straw for our coaching staff, according to UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek, was the alleged bump (violation) heard around the world, and it wasn't even in the report and the Committee on Infractions deemed it not to be a violation at all,'' said Jones, who along with Pearl was originally charged with a major violation by the NCAA enforcement staff for incidental contact (known as a bump) with a student-athlete at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy on Sept. 14.
"I'm sure that makes the Vol Nation have a lot of confidence in Chancellor Cheek, who never even bothered to meet with our coaching staff.''
Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes were given a one-year show-cause penalty for not being forthcoming in the investigation.
The bump violation emerged in the NCAA's Letter of Allegations, released on Feb. 23, and was referenced by UT during the firing of Pearl.
In Wednesday's conference call, an NCAA representative said there was insufficient evidence in the charge, and even had it been deemed a violation, it likely would have been secondary.
Still, the charge did its damage, according to Stu Brown, an attorney with the Ice Miller Law Firm in Indianapolis who represented the three assistants.
"It was a Ninja violation; it came in the middle of the night, did it's damage, and left without anyone actually seeing it,'' Brown said.
Jones said he was appalled by Pearl receiving three years for providing false and misleading information to NCAA investigators about a picture of Pearl and then-recruit Aaron Craft taken at Pearl's home during an impermissible contact on Sept. 20, 2008.
"I'm surprised it was three years, because he came back and set the record straight with the committee, and how many other coaches have done that?'' said Jones, who has been hired as Alcoa boys' basketball coach. "You look at the landscape of college athletics, and you see what went on with the football programs at USC, Ohio State, Oregon, North Carolina and now Miami, and it's unfortunate having a kid over to your house for a hamburger gets you three years away from your passion.''
Jones said Pearl intended to set the record straight immediately after the June 14, 2010 NCAA interview, but he couldn't reach former athletic director Mike Hamilton.
"We came back to the office after the interview, and Coach said 'guys, you know what? I think that picture was at my house. I need to call the NCAA back and set the record straight,' '' Jones said. "He called Mike Hamilton, but Hamilton was out of the country on vacation.''
Hamilton didn't return until July, at which point UT contacted the NCAA and requested another interview that was granted on Aug. 4, 2010.
Cheek said at a Nov. 19 press conference that: "Coach Pearl is our coach. He's going to be our coach for many, many years. We're going to get through this adversity and we're going to be stronger as a result of it.''
Hamilton said in January that UT would retain Pearl provided there weren't additional unknown major violations beyond the unethical conduct charge.
Brown said his interpretation of the infractions report convinces him that his clients will be hireable immediately after the upcoming season.
"The findings were all three failed to uphold their obligation of cooperation and honesty," Brown said. "That is lesser than and different than an unethical conduct finding.
"There's not a finding they lied to the NCAA. It was they weren't as forthcoming as they should have been.''
Forbes, now coach at Northwest Florida State College with Shay as an assistant, said the media has not been accurate in their interpretation of a show-cause order.
"Contrary to what has been written in the past about a show-cause penalty, it does not preclude me from coaching at the NCAA level now or in the future,'' Forbes said. "Nor will an NCAA school that wishes to hire me now or in the future be forced to appear in front of the (Committee On Infractions) as long as they agree to abide by the stipulations that are set forth in my show-cause findings, which expire in a year.''
Forbes said there are stipulations within each show-cause that schools who want to hire a coach must abide by.
Brown said in the cases of Forbes, Shay and Jones, the NCAA bylaw reference would preclude them from soliciting recruits but not evaluating them.
"It appears the committee made a conscientious decision that Tony, Steven and Jason have already been punished pretty severely,'' Brown said. "Their restrictions are referenced by NCAA bylaw 13.02.13, which talks about recruiting as a solicitation of prospective student-athletes.
"What's not mentioned or cited in the report is bylaw 13.02.7, which talks about evaluation of student athletes.''
Brown concludes the three former assistants "could perform coaching roles as evaluators next summer at various AAU summer events,'' without going before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
"I would leave it to everyone's own discretion to reference the rule book and draw their own conclusions,'' Brown said.
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee men's basketball and can be followed on twitter at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32