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The Notice of Allegations released Wednesday revealed the NCAA enforcement staff’s interpretation of half-truths, lies and violations committed within the Tennessee men’s basketball program.
Still to come are the consequences as determined by the NCAA, and how they might affect coach Bruce Pearl’s future.
UT has 90 days to respond in writing to the allegations — 10 basketball-related and nine major — that were detailed in the 26-page report.
UT will appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions on June 10-11 in Indianapolis. The committee would then make the conclusions on the violations.
The announcement of the NCAA’s sanctions on the program will follow, likely in late fall based on the time line in Connecticut’s recently concluded men’s basketball case.
Penalties in another similar NCAA case, involving the Chattanooga men’s basketball team, suggest the Vols will likely be placed on probation and lose scholarships at a minimum.
UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said when UT received its letter of inquiry on Sept. 10 that there’s a possibility Pearl could be suspended from his coaching duties for a year.
Hamilton has since said that UT could retain Pearl even if the NCAA suspends Pearl for a year.
“It’s our intention to keep him,’’ Hamilton said on Feb. 16. “Unless there’s something (severe violation) out there we’re unaware of.’’
Hamilton released a statement Wednesday indicating there weren’t many surprises in the report.
“... most items noted in this document have already been reported broadly,’’ Hamilton’s statement said.
The one basketball-related violation in the Notice of Allegations that hadn’t been reported involves Pearl and UT associate head coach Tony Jones making an in-person, off-campus contact with prospect Jordan Adams at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy on Sept. 14, 2010.
The Notice of Allegations requests “a statement (from UT) indicating the reasons Pearl and Jones made an impermissible contact with Adams in light of NCAA legislation prohibiting such contacts.’’
Two sources in the UT athletic department who requested anonymity because of the NCAA case has not been completed, said Hamilton has been aware of the so-called “bump” violation, which refers to an unintentional impermissible contact. The sources said UT’s compliance department deemed it wasn’t a violation, and so it wasn’t self-reported.
The sources said Tennessee will likely appeal the violation in its response letter to the NCAA within the next 90 days.
Four of the other eight major violations are directly related to testimony from Pearl and his three assistant coaches — Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay — involving a Sept. 20, 2008 cookout at Pearl’s home that three junior prospects on unofficial visits attended.
The prospects, all UT verbal commitments at the time, were Aaron Craft (now at Ohio State), Josh Selby (now at Kansas) and UT freshman Jordan McRae.
A photo of Pearl and Craft was taken at the cookout and surfaced as evidence of a violation, as off-campus contact is not allowed during an official visit.
When shown the black-and-white reproduced photo in an initial interview with NCAA investigators on June 14, 2010, Pearl and his assistants denied having absolute knowledge of where the photo was taken.
Pearl later requested a second interview with the NCAA, conducted Aug. 5, 2010, during which he admitted to knowing the photo was taken at his home.
That led to an unethical conduct charge being levied against Pearl for his false and misleading testimony in the original NCAA interview.
UT revealed on Sept. 10 a list of self-imposed severe and unprecedented sanctions as a result of Pearl’s tainted testimony.
Among the penalties has been a 25 percent reduction in all four coaches’ salaries, including Pearl’s $1.5 million loss to be taken out over the next five years, and off-campus recruiting bans of varying length for each of the coaches.
Beginning on Sept. 24, 2010, Pearl and Forbes were suspended for a year, Jones for nine months and Shay for three months.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive took further unprecedented action in November, issuing Pearl an eight-game league suspension that took place from Jan. 8 to Feb. 5. Jones assumed game-day head coaching duties in Pearl’s absence, posting a 5-3 SEC mark during that period.
Pearl, who has been working under a Letter of Appointment after his contract was terminated by UT as a result of the ongoing NCAA case, issued a statement on Wednesday.
“The penalties imposed on our program have been severe ...,’’ Pearl’s statement said. “I appreciate the opportunity to serve the University of Tennessee, and everyone in our basketball program is finding ways to improve every day.’’
UT and Pearl have been in negotiations to complete a new contract since October, but as time passed it became apparent a deal wouldn’t be concluded prior to the receipt of the Notice of Allegations.
The three assistant coaches have been charged with a “failure to furnish full and complete information relevant to the investigation.’’
While severe and perhaps even major in nature, the charge the assistants face is considerably lighter than a show cause penalty would have been.
Any school wanting to hire a coach served with an active show cause designation must appear before the NCAA infractions committee and potentially face new sanctions.