Tennessee's secondary violations:
Why the time lag? And how did it impact the result, if at all?
Bruce Pearl's attorney said Monday that the former Tennessee basketball coach and his staff were made aware of a troublesome photo on the day of their 2010 interviews with the NCAA enforcement staff.
Mike Glazier, the outside counsel hired by UT, however, knew about the photo six days in advance, according to the university's official response to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations.
The photo, taken in September 2008, showed prospect Aaron Craft and Pearl during Craft's unofficial visit to Knoxville.
It would become the crux of an ordeal that led to charges of major NCAA violations against UT basketball and the dismissal of Pearl and his staff last March.
Steve Thompson, Pearl's attorney, issued a statement to the News Sentinel on Monday to "clarify one inaccurate statement now circulating in the press.''
Thompson wrote that " ... the News Sentinel reported that Coach Pearl was aware of the existence of a photograph of Coach Pearl and a prospect six days before his initial interview with the NCAA.
"This statement is inaccurate: Coach Pearl and his staff were advised of the photograph the day of the interviews, not six days before.''
What the News Sentinel wrote in Sunday's edition was that both Glazier and Pearl knew of the photo before the interview — and that Glazier knew of it six days before.
Based on UT's response, obtained Friday in an open records request, the story did not state when Pearl was informed of the photo, merely that he had been informed.
In separate interviews with NCAA enforcement staff on June 14, 2010, Pearl and assistants Steve Forbes, Jason Shay and Tony Jones were shown a grainy copy of the photo. According to testimony in UT's response, Forbes went first, followed by Shay, Jones and then Pearl. None admitted to being able to identify the scene of the photo as Pearl's house.
As a prospect on an unofficial visit, Craft was not allowed to be entertained at the off-campus Pearl cookout, which involved receiving a meal and transportation.
Pearl, uncomfortable with his deceptive answers, requested a second interview to set the record straight. On Aug. 5, he and his staff again met with enforcement officers and he confirmed he had in fact recognized that the photo was taken at his house.
But the damage was done, setting in motion a chain of disclosures that led the university to fire Pearl and his assistants at the end of the 2010-11 season.
UT has self-imposed a two-year probation and a number of restrictions on recruiting in football and basketball. It is currently awaiting the NCAA's final ruling on the 12 major infractions charged.
The response, running nearly 200 pages, was prepared in conjunction with UT's session before the Committee on Infractions last month,
In the response, Pearl said in the Aug. 5 interview that he "panicked" in the initial interrogation. The other coaches gave various explanations for not being more forthcoming.
The response also states that the NCAA notified Glazier on June 8, 2010, of the photo — and that it would be a topic in the upcoming interviews.
According to the response, the coaching staff was informed of the photo and its inclusion in the interviews. But the timing is not specified.
The coaches had been expecting the interviews to primarily concern impermissible phone calls made to recruits over an extended time span.
Why Glazier did not share the information on the photo before the day of the interview is unclear.
Attempts to obtain clarification from Glazier on Monday were unsuccessful.
UT did not elaborate.
"We will let the response speak for itself and won't be commenting further,'' Jimmy Stanton, associate athletic director for communications, wrote in an email Monday.
Whether giving Pearl and his staff more time to deliberate their response to the initial interview would have produced different results can only be speculated.
Neither Pearl nor his assistants are willing to comment at this time.
Thompson's statement on Monday also included the following:
"Although Coach Pearl disputes some of the factual assertions contained in the University's Response, Coach Pearl has addressed those inaccuracies with the Committee on Infractions, and the matter is now in the Committee's hands.''