What UT has already done
- Two years of probation, which will require UT to send annual compliance reports to the NCAA and the SEC.
- The men’s basketball staff is not permitted to provide occasional off-campus meals during the 2011-12 academic year.
- On Nov. 1, the first day of the November 2011 contact period, only 50 percent of the football staff can make recruiting telephone calls to prospective student athletes.
- During the Spring 2011 evaluation period, the football staff had its permissible recruiting days reduced from 168 to 162.
What remains on the table
- Additional years of probation
- More intrusive recruiting restrictions
- Scholarship reductions
- Postseason ban
Tennessee's secondary violations:
The University of Tennessee self-imposed two years of probation on its athletic department after it submitted its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations on May 20, according to documents obtained Friday by the News Sentinel through a public records request.
Outside of a handful of recruiting restrictions placed on the current football staff and a minor restriction placed on the new men’s basketball staff in 2011, the university believed that "the penalties imposed during the course of its investigation, coupled with its corrective measures, adequately address the violations that occurred."
"The University has taken what it believes are meaningful and appropriate steps to address the problems identified in this case," the response reads, "including declaring student-athletes ineligible, implementing enhancements to the compliance program, and self-imposing penalties upon the particular coaching staff members and sports programs that were designed to punish the head coach, deter similar conduct in the future, and offset any advantages that the programs may have gained."
Along with the probation, UT has enacted the following self-imposed punishments:
Men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and his staff are not permitted to provide occasional off-campus meals during the 2011-12 academic year.
On Nov. 1, the first day of the November 2011 contact period, only 50 percent of coaches (10 to five) on Derek Dooley’s football coaching staff can make recruiting telephone calls to prospective student athletes.
During the Spring 2011 evaluation period, the football staff had its permissible recruiting days reduced from 168 to 162.
UT and its attorneys from Bond, Schoeneck and King made and defended these additional punitive punishments at a Committee on Infractions hearing on June 11 in Indianapolis, where UT and its former coaches in football and men’s basketball were summoned after being accused of committing 12 major violations. As granted by the NCAA, the committee has the power to levy further punishments, including a reduction of scholarships and a postseason ban.
It’s not set when the COI will announce its rulings, but the minimum processing time is no fewer than eight weeks from the hearing.
The newly unveiled self-sanctions are in addition to the litany of penalties it issued throughout the 21-month investigation and during the months between when UT received the Notice of Allegations in February to the June hearing.
As noted in the response, all individuals associated with the violations, with the exception of football director of player personnel Steve Rubio, are no longer employed by the university. That includes former athletic director Mike Hamilton, who resigned days before the June hearing, and former basketball coach Bruce Pearl and his three assistants, the latter of whom collectively misled NCAA investigators during June 2010 interviews.
"Sadly, this became a case of a head coach and his assistants following a somewhat correctable secondary violation with a series of bad decisions," the response reads. "Those decisions put a proud and reputable program in substantial jeopardy and eventually led to the termination of employment of the four coaches, each of whom had a promising future at the University."
When the NCAA hits an institution with a Notice of Allegations, the school has 90 days to provide answers to a number of questions that either agree or disagree with the facts presented. UT’s response was lengthy, as the document, which featured numerous redactions to protect the names of currently enrolled students, nearly totaled 200 pages.
The university considered most of the allegations to be "substantially correct," though it did disagree with the severity attached to a few of the allegations.
UT disputed two of the 96 impermissible phone calls made to 12 men’s basketball recruits. Two of the phone calls made by Steve Forbes to Josh Selby were, in UT’s interpretation, OK, according to the response.
The "bump" violation that occurred just days after Pearl’s emotional press conference where he confessed to misleading NCAA investigators and ultimately led to his firing was secondary "based upon the facts and circumstances under which it occurred," according to the response.
UT believed that Pearl and assistant Tony Jones’ contact with Oak Hill academy prospect Jordan Adams was impermissible, but the facts of the violation were consistent with secondary infractions case precedent.
UT agreed that Pearl failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when it pertained to a number of the violations, but not the "bump" or a violation involving assistant Jason Shay because they were both "isolated" and "inadvertent" instances.
The violation involving Shay is heavily redacted and unintelligible.
The 16 impermissible phone calls made by former football coach Lane Kiffin’s staff over a six-day period in January 2010 should also be considered as secondary violations, according to the response.
The response completely disputes an allegation that former Kiffin assistant David Reaves urged an unidentified, currently enrolled student to call and text recruits because the report is "lacking both in documentary evidence and supporting statements from the involved parties."
UT agreed that Kiffin failed to monitor his coaching staff or promote an atmosphere of compliance in multiple instances, but not in another violation that centered on Reaves because Reaves "acted on his own and without notice to Kiffin." The second violation associated with Reaves is heavily redacted
Also of note, the response reveals that the NCAA received the infamous photo of Pearl posing with then-high school junior Aaron Craft at his home from an anonymous source via U.S. Mail. Underneath, the caption read: "Question: Is having Aaron Craft a 2010 high school recruit in your home an NCAA violation? I wonder if the NCAA would think so …"
Included throughout the document are partial transcripts of interviews with Pearl and his assistants and NCAA investigators. In June 2010, all four coaches fielded a barrage of questions regarding the photograph, but none could confirm that the picture was taken at Pearl’s home.
At Pearl’s request, all four met with investigators again in August 2010 to come clean.
"I panicked," Pearl said in his follow-up interview. "I wanted it to go away."
The response lists a number of corrective measures to ensure that these violations, which warranted the university’s first major infractions case since 1991, won’t happen again. Included in those are a new, strict policy for telephone call violations and the requirement for all of the school’s coaches to submit quarterly compliance statements to chancellor Jimmy Cheek.
"The University is deeply disappointed that these violations have occurred," the response reads. "The depth of the disappointment is matched only by its commitment to doing whatever is necessary to restore the reputations of its men’s basketball and football programs."
Timeline for NCAA investigation of Tennessee
Sept. 20, 2008: A cookout at basketball coach Bruce Pearl’s house with recruits Aaron Craft, Josh Selby and others is the scene of a photograph of Craft and Pearl.
Fall of 2009: Two members of Orange Pride hostess organization are pictured with prospects at a high school game in Duncan, S.C.
Oct. 12, 2009: Football aide Steve Rubio accompanies head coach Lane Kiffin on a recruiting visit to a high school in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after Kiffin had been advised this was not allowed.
Jan. 12, 2010: Kiffin resigns as football coach to accept position at Southern California.
Jan. 15, 2010: Derek Dooley hired to replace Kiffin.
April 16, 2010: NCAA enforcement staff receives anonymous mail including photo of Pearl and Craft.
June 8, 2010: NCAA notifies Tennessee photo will be discussed in upcoming interview.
June 14, 2010: Pearl and his staff provide misleading information about September cookout to NCAA investigators during interview.
June 14, 2010: Pearl initiates contact with John Craft, father of Aaron Craft, to discuss the photo and cookout, raising suspicion of cover-up.
Aug. 5, 2010: Pearl and staff voluntarily re-interview with NCAA investigators and acknowledge lying in previous interview.
Sept. 10, 2010: UT announces it has received a Letter of Inquiry from the NCAA and that it has penalized Pearl and his staff with salary reductions and other sanctions. The fact that Pearl’s contract has been terminated is not revealed.
Sept. 14, 2010: Pearl and assistant Tony Jones have chance contact with a recruit at Oak Hill Academy that the NCAA will later designate a major violation.
Nov. 19, 2010: SEC commissioner Mike Slive suspends Pearl from eight league games.
Feb. 23, 2011: UT receives long-awaited Notice of Allegations from NCAA in which 12 major infractions are charged.
March 21, 2011: Pearl is fired.
March 27, 2011: Cuonzo Martin hired to replace Pearl.
May 20, 2011: UT self-imposes a two-year probation on men’s athletic programs in advance of Committee on Infractions hearing but doesn’t make it public.
June 11, 2011: UT appears before the Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis to plead its case.