Tennessee's secondary violations:
The initial question came with an apology.
Joyce Thompson, one of the NCAA's head investigators for the probe into Tennessee's athletic department, clutched a photograph as she sat across from Bruce Pearl during a June 2010 interview. Also present was Mike Glazier, the university's lead attorney.
Neither Pearl nor Glazier were caught off guard. Six days earlier, the NCAA's enforcement staff had informed Glazier that the infamous photograph of Pearl and prized prospect Aaron Craft taken inside Pearl's home would be part of the interrogation.
"Have you, and I apologize, this is a grainy photo that we received in our office, and I received this through e-mail just to let you know," Thompson said, looking at Pearl. "But, um, we received this picture and it purports to be you with Aaron Craft.
"Do you have any recollection of that incident or maybe where this picture was maybe taken from and..."
"That's Aaron, that's me," Pearl said. "I don't really know where that's taken."
"OK," Thompson said. "Any place on campus but you don't know?"
"Do you recognize the woman that's in the picture?" he asked, referring to a shot of Jana Shay, the wife of Pearl's assistant coach Jason Shay, positioned with her head down in the background.
"No," Pearl said. "I really don't."
"Coach," Glazier said, "is that in your home any place?"
"No," Pearl said.
"OK," Thompson said.
And with that, the end had officially begun.
On Sept. 20, 2008, after the UT football team lost to Florida in ugly fashion at Neyland Stadium, then-high school juniors Aaron Craft, Josh Selby and Jordan McRae, all of whom were on campus for unofficial visits, rode to Pearl's home for a barbecue.
Because two of the players received transportation from a current player, a violation was committed before they even set foot on Pearl's property. Once that occurred, another rule had been broken because unofficial visitors are not permitted to be with any team representatives off campus. Finally, because free food and drink were provided to the recruits and their families, a third violation was committed within an hour.
The incident went unreported by Pearl or any of his assistants, but a photograph of Pearl posed with Craft at his house changed everything.
As detailed in the university's response to its NCAA Notice of Allegations, which was filed May 20 and provided Friday to the News Sentinel through a public records request, how Pearl and his coaches conducted themselves during and between their initial interviews with NCAA investigators ultimately served as the backbone for why UT awaits sanctions from the Committee on Infractions for 12 major violations, and why the coaches no longer are UT employees.
'Principles of honesty'
Pearl's interview was the last of the day, but it wasn't the first instance of a UT employee violating the NCAA's "principles of honesty."
Pearl and all three of his assistants — associate head coach Tony Jones, Shay and Steve Forbes — each did it in slightly different ways.
Forbes was the first to be interviewed. He questioned the quality of the photograph, which was sent anonymously via U.S. Mail to the NCAA.
"I mean it doesn't look like his house to me, but, that doesn't mean, I don't, I can't tell, no," Forbes said during his initial interview with Thompson.
Glazier followed up with a question to see if he could identify Jana Shay.
Forbes hesitated, then cursed.
"These days a photo shop..."
"OK," Glazier said.
"OK," Thompson said.
"You know," Forbes said, "it could be anything."
On his way out of the interview, Forbes met Shay, who was on his way in to be interviewed, at a water fountain in the hallway.
"You're gonna see that ... they're gonna show you a picture," Forbes, in his follow-up interview in August, recalled telling Shay. "That was it."
Forbes then walked back to the basketball offices and met with Jones and Pearl. He notified them both about the photograph.
Meanwhile, back in the interrogation room, Shay was not directly asked about his wife's presence in the photograph, and he didn't voluntarily offer up the information.
"Does the area look familiar? Maybe a place on campus or someone's home?" Thompson asked.
"Yeah, I don't recognize it," Shay said.
Jones identified Pearl and Craft in the photograph, but didn't explicitly deny that the photo was snapped in Pearl's home. He also could not confirm that the woman in the photo was Jana Shay.
Both Forbes and Shay eventually were charged with failing to protect the integrity of the investigation.
'A bad decision'
Earlier that day, Pearl committed a major NCAA violation when he attempted to contact Craft's father, John. John didn't answer, so Pearl left a voicemail.
The two spoke later in the day after Pearl's interview with Thompson. John Craft viewed the conversation as an attempt by Pearl to influence his statements to the NCAA. The NCAA viewed it as failing to protect the integrity of the investigation.
The Crafts interviewed with the NCAA twice in July 2010.
"I said, 'Well, coach, you know, if we're asked we will tell what is the best of our ability, you know, the recollection of what happened that afternoon, that day, that visit,'" John Craft said during an interview with Thompson. "He right away said 'Well, John, we,' his tone kinda changed and it was like, uh, 'Well, we — I've had a discussion with my staff and,' uh, 'we remember the visit and we remember telling you that we were going out for an informal cookout at my house and that it was illegal for you to be there.'
"And I said, 'Coach, if that's your story then,' you know, 'we're gonna have two.'"
Pearl said his reasons for contacting Craft were twofold. Along with his curiosity about where the photo came from, Pearl said he wanted to give Craft the "heads up" that NCAA investigators might contact him in the near future.
Pearl stressed that he was not instructing Craft to lie, but understood how others could imply the situation that way.
"Obviously," Pearl said in a follow-up interview with the NCAA, "I made a bad decision in calling John."
Having second thoughts
Second thoughts raced through Pearl's head immediately after his initial interview with the NCAA.
He called a meeting with his assistants later that day, something the NCAA also considered to be a compromise of the investigation's integrity. His questions focused solely on the photograph.
"...he, coach Pearl, came back and said that he recognized that it was his house," Shay said in his follow-up interview with the NCAA.
"OK," Thompson said, "and what was your, what was your reaction to that?"
"I mean I — if he said it was then I agreed with him."
Shay said he, Jones and Forbes each notified Pearl that they didn't recognize the photograph's setting.
It was then, Shay said, that Pearl decided he would contact the NCAA to say that "we've got additional information."
Pearl waited nearly two months before he was able to meet again with the NCAA's enforcement staff. Thompson, accompanied by fellow investigator Kristen Matha, ran through a number of the same questions from the previous interview with Pearl, who was joined by his personal legal counsel, Steve Thompson.
Pearl came clean right from the start. He knew that the photo was snapped at his house and he knew that the woman in the background was Jana Shay.
He later explained why.
"I panicked," Pearl said. "I wanted it to go away.
"It goes against a lotta things that I've worked for that I sorta stand for."
Pearl said he knew what his assistants said — and didn't say — about the photograph.
"So," Pearl said, "I did not tell the truth.
"This is only the second time I've been through an NCAA investigation, so, um, I thought maybe that would be the end of it."
Also, during the barbecue, Pearl said he gathered Craft, Selby and members of their family on the veranda of his house to explain why they would soon need to leave.
"I said 'you guys are now, you're in our home and this, this is wrong, OK. This is against the rules,'" Pearl said. "'One, I'm gonna ask you to leave here shortly and two, I'm gonna ask you not to say anything about this. This is not something that I would broadcast or advertise.'"
None of the assistants, who were questioned extensively about how many times they'd been to Pearl's home in the past, were as blunt or forgiving as Pearl in their follow-up interviews.
Jones was asked if he, at the time of his initial interview, "recognized the surroundings of the photo."
"I couldn't," Jones said. "I couldn't look at this picture and tell you that this was over at coach Pearl's house. There's no way in the world that I could say beyond a reasonable — I'm 100 percent sure this picture was taken over at his house. I couldn't do that."
Shay, after notifying investigators that he initially recognized his wife in the photo, was asked why he didn't provide them with that bit of information.
"It wasn't asked of me," he said.
Like Jones, Forbes said that he felt he was originally honest with the investigators because he couldn't "100 percent" tell the photo was snapped at Pearl's home.
"I'm pretty sure I said in there you know how many pictures I've seen him Photoshopped in in the last three or four years, five years I've been here?" Forbes asked.
"No," Thompson said, "I don't."
"A lot," Forbes said. "I mean, I see him on a boat with his family, and then next time I see it the kids are cropped out and there's three girls with bikinis on."