'A very heavy price': Lane Kiffin, Bruce Pearl and Mike Hamilton have their time in NCAA's den

INDIANAPOLIS - The room originally booked for Tennessee's NCAA Committee on Infractions hearing Saturday wasn't big enough to house all the personalities summoned to face the music for 12 major violations.

The block of time sandwiched between sunrise and sunset wasn't long enough, either.

With hundreds of hotel guests filing in to a wedding reception set to begin just down the hall, the various parties who carried a wide variety of respective interests filed out of Ballrooms Two, Three and Four of the Downtown Marriott after nearly 11 hours of dialogue with the NCAA's version of a combined judge and jury.

"(There are) so many people that had so many different connections," former Vols football coach Lane Kiffin said. "It felt a little bit different."

Former Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin, now at Southern California, enters a hearing by the NCAA's infractions committee in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Photo by AJ Mast/Associated Press

Former Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin, now at Southern California, enters a hearing by the NCAA's infractions committee in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl leaves a hearing by the NCAA's infractions committee in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Photo by AJ Mast/Associated Press

Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl leaves a hearing by the NCAA's infractions committee in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton, who has announced his resignation, enters a hearing by the NCAA's infractions committee in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Photo by AJ Mast/Associated Press

Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton, who has announced his resignation, enters a hearing by the NCAA's infractions committee in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Former men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, whose misleading of NCAA investigators during a June interview served as the centerpiece of this 26-month investigation, was one of the last to leave. He talked solemnly for a minute before walking out with his lawyers.

Asked if Saturday's hearing served as a relief, Pearl said, "not really."

"Obviously, we paid a very heavy price," he said. "All of us have, the university, my coaching staff and our Tennessee fanbase. There's not much relief."

One by one, former coaches, current administrators and current UT coaches all departed without commenting to a handful of reporters who camped outside the closed-door hearing from start to finish.

That group included: former basketball assistants Tony Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes; Vols football coach Derek Dooley; men's athletic director Mike Hamilton, who resigned Tuesday; interim athletic director Joan Cronan, men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin and senior associate athletic director David Blackburn.

UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek declined to comment as he walked out of the ballroom, but released a statement shortly thereafter.

"We are glad we had the opportunity to present our case," he said. "We feel it was a fair hearing, and we look forward to the resolution of this matter."

After a 40-minute round of opening statements to kick off the 8:30 a.m. hearing, Pearl, his former assistants and their respective legal teams left the ballroom and retreated to corners of the downstairs lobby while the focus turned to the two major violations levied against the Vols football program.

More than four hours passed before the hearing broke for lunch.

Because the afternoon would deal specifically with the 10 major violations alleged against the men's basketball program and the institution for its failure to monitor the men's basketball staff's phone calls, Kiffin and former assistant David Reaves were free to leave.

Kiffin, the second-year coach at Southern Cal, spoke briefly before departing the hotel and boarding a mid-afternoon flight back to Los Angeles, where he had hoped to be back in time for the end of an on-campus football camp.

"I'm happy that we got to get the truth presented," said Kiffin, who sat through a three-day COI hearing last year shortly after he was hired by the Trojans. "We're going from there."

Though Dooley was in attendance, both of the football violations were pinned exclusively on Kiffin's regime.

Kiffin faced a charge of failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant coaches, while Reaves faced "allegations relating to impermissible contacts with prospective student-athletes."

Reaves, now the offensive coordinator at New Mexico, left the hearing without commenting. Kiffin and Reaves, who are brothers-in-law, departed separately.

Asked if he felt comfortable with the information he presented to the Committee on Infractions, Kiffin simply said, "very."

"It was a very fair process," Kiffin said. "I'm glad that it's over."

Before he re-entered the ballroom to testify and defend himself, Pearl stopped in front of a group of reporters to point out his orange tie. He then opened his jacket to reveal that he was wearing the trademark orange suspenders he donned for years as the popular Vols men's basketball coach.

His mood was less jovial after a five-hour session before the Committee on Infractions, which has been known to be ruthless in its questioning.

"The hardest part is just being there," Pearl said. "It's not something that I was expecting and looking forward to have to appear before the committee on infractions."

Pearl faces a slew of allegations of major violations and could potentially receive a show-cause penalty that would keep him out of coaching for multiple years. It was expected that Pearl and UT would fight to have at least one of the violations, a "bump" infraction for his impermissible contact with a high school junior basketball player, reduced or eliminated.

Pearl, citing NCAA policy, declined to delve into the specifics of his arguments.

He, along with the rest of the characters who piled in to the ballroom Saturday morning, will have to wait eight to 12 weeks before they receive the committee's findings.

"I think they've got a very accurate view of the case," Pearl said. "Now we'll wait for their decisions."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 76

legaljamm writes:

Gee! If you don't first lie, cheat or steal, then you don't have problems.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to legaljamm:

Gee! If you don't first lie, cheat or steal, then you don't have problems.

yes you are correct. That is why all humans have problems.

kingmufasa76 writes:

little boy blue and man in the moon when ya comin home kiff i dont when ..... we'll get together then pearl oh we'll get together then

eVOLved writes:

At jefferson city's Old Time Saturday, I bought a t-shirt that said "Jesus was a Volunteer, so this must be God's country." Lord, please show patience and understanding, Amen.

knoxtenn writes:

Amazing that such a combination of incompetence could hit one university all at the same time. For all of Kiffin's bravado, Pearl's ability to actually coach the game, and Hamilton's long-time loyalty, their combined lack of discernment is simply phenomenol. For UT to have all 3 there at the same time is stunning.

For all the Hamilton haters and Pearl lovers I will say this- - Hamilton has the least culpability of any of these, and if these guys had all done their jobs within the rules the fickle majority would be praising the guy.

UofTNVol writes:

Bruce Pearl and Mike Hamilton are two good guys caught in the eye of the storm. Bruce Pearl will be the first and last coach to screw up and actually own it. You wait and see. This is the first and last damn time you will EVER see that happen.

keithknoxvol writes:

I don't care. Bruce Pearl has done a lot for the big orange nation. IMO his good out weights the bad. Bruce is and will always be a VFL.

jgl#233810 writes:

Depressing, just depressing. Pearl brought every bit of this on himself & will deserve pretty much anything the NCAA chooses to hammer him with. That said, the whole mess is just sad to me, a case where ambition seemed to trump judgment (or more like clubbed judgment over the head repeatedly).

ColoVol writes:

Bruce Pearl was a great recruiter, leader and mentor to these kids in basketball. Unfortunately, he took his aggressiveness to win too far and broke the rules. His cardinal sin was lying about what he did. Truly unfortunate for CBP - I think he's deep down a top notch guy who lost his way.

Lane Kiffin and Mike Hamilton are both low-life scum bags. GOOD RIDDANCE! We have a looooooong way to go now in football, basketball and baseball thanks to our fearless athletic director through 6/7/2011!

VOLFAN4LIFEgovols writes:

Ya I was sad to see Pearl go. As for Kiffin I think if we get punished for what he did 2 days b4 he left then he should as well at USC

Kasey writes:

All the coaches knew the rules and chose to break them, then lie and try to cover it up. Hamilton had the bad judgment to hire these buffoons, and UT has at atmosphere of "win at all costs" that allows this B,S,

rainbow6 writes:

The abject stupidity of the coaches in this story is just contemptible. Just look at the cost in terms of jobs and lives disruppted. It trickles down to every one who ever came in contact with them. Players and fans now understand that thier favorite coaches may have the same weaknesses that any criminal has. Lying and cheating are two sides of the same coin. They all deserve what ever it costs them.
Not so the players and fans. Not so the institutions which hire them in good faith.
It is enough to make one sick.

madisonvillevol writes:

in response to ColoVol:

Bruce Pearl was a great recruiter, leader and mentor to these kids in basketball. Unfortunately, he took his aggressiveness to win too far and broke the rules. His cardinal sin was lying about what he did. Truly unfortunate for CBP - I think he's deep down a top notch guy who lost his way.

Lane Kiffin and Mike Hamilton are both low-life scum bags. GOOD RIDDANCE! We have a looooooong way to go now in football, basketball and baseball thanks to our fearless athletic director through 6/7/2011!

just a thought: a great leader, mentor, or a top notch guy doesn't have a problem with "losing his way."

slb#1351874 writes:

It's sad but comical to read some of the comments that appear in these forums. Here on the sidelines we got Great AD's,we got great coaches, great administrators, great financial contributors, great journalist, heck we got it all yet we still allow our staff to get our butts in hot water.
Why with all the great people we have posting does our beloved vols get into so much trouble? Doesn't appear we do a very good job of advising or monitoring those hired to run the programs. A little bit of advice some of our posters should take heed of.
When you have nothing important or interesting to say, don't let anyone persuade you to say it.
Have a great day.
I love my vols no matter what you say.

rab writes:

There was no money exchanged hands in any of these allegations. I agree on a professional level it would be difficult for Bruce Pearl to teach young men the concept of interigity and trust when you have "lost your way" yourself. Hence I agree with Pearl's dismissal. However the magnitude of the allegations here just doesn't add up to severe (reference Ohio State).

CLEMSONVOL716WASBANNED writes:

"Pearl, citing NCAA policy, declined to delve into the specifics of his arguments."

Why start playing by the rules now?

collegegrad writes:

Well, depending on the severity of the punishment Pearl receives, the University should offer the athletic director position to Pearl, should Fulmer turn it down. The catch is, that Pearl should have to take ethics classes.

alfrizzle097 writes:

Very interested to see how the NCAA handles this. On the one hand you have Pearl who has expressed remorse and accepted some level of accountability by repeatedly noting that he was the one that messed up. On the other you have Lane, who's violations arguaby less severe but seems to have the smug smile on his face still.

In the middle of those two, you have Mike Hamilton and the University as two unassociated entities.

Again, very interested to see how the NCAA handles a strange case.

CrankE writes:

So basically a bunch of smoke, but no fire yet. When do we get the actual press release from the Nationally Corrupt Atletics Association?

SouthDakotaBob writes:

This is just an embarrassing situation. Ready to move forward. Hopefully the NCAA will be lenient. GBO!!!

Titan writes:

I'm hoping the Ohio State mess helps mitigate our punishment to some degree. Kind of like Olympic scoring - you can't give a perfect score to the first competitor when you know you've got somebody coming along that might top that. We done wrong, no doubt, and will get slapped hard, but when compared to OSU (and USC too), our infractions pale in comparison.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to ColoVol:

Bruce Pearl was a great recruiter, leader and mentor to these kids in basketball. Unfortunately, he took his aggressiveness to win too far and broke the rules. His cardinal sin was lying about what he did. Truly unfortunate for CBP - I think he's deep down a top notch guy who lost his way.

Lane Kiffin and Mike Hamilton are both low-life scum bags. GOOD RIDDANCE! We have a looooooong way to go now in football, basketball and baseball thanks to our fearless athletic director through 6/7/2011!

Name calling help you any? Kiffin is likely scum, but Mike Hamilton is a very good man. Likely was in over his head, but he is a good man.

iowavol writes:

in response to knoxtenn:

Amazing that such a combination of incompetence could hit one university all at the same time. For all of Kiffin's bravado, Pearl's ability to actually coach the game, and Hamilton's long-time loyalty, their combined lack of discernment is simply phenomenol. For UT to have all 3 there at the same time is stunning.

For all the Hamilton haters and Pearl lovers I will say this- - Hamilton has the least culpability of any of these, and if these guys had all done their jobs within the rules the fickle majority would be praising the guy.

k10, you made me laugh. Read the first statement in your comment and then the second sentence in your second paragraph. Heck, if the coaches had just done their jobs, recruited the right players, all 4 and 5 * athletes with 4.0 GPA's who spend their off time at the shriners hospital, and if they had won all their games, and had taken half their salary and donated to Haiti, Hamilton would be seen as the genius he is. How does that work for you?

The absolute best part of this whole disgusting saga is that Hamilton will no longer be part of this university. Good riddance.

charlyand#601962 writes:

in response to UofTNVol:

Bruce Pearl and Mike Hamilton are two good guys caught in the eye of the storm. Bruce Pearl will be the first and last coach to screw up and actually own it. You wait and see. This is the first and last damn time you will EVER see that happen.

Amen to that. If you screw up, the message is, you'd better not try to make it right. All that he went through last year was for nothing because he was fired anyway.

tmcretired writes:

in response to madisonvillevol:

just a thought: a great leader, mentor, or a top notch guy doesn't have a problem with "losing his way."

I have been in Tennessee 3 years I am a vol fan I had one year of Fulmer a losing year a year of Kiffin a wining year and one year of Dooley a losing year.I think Pearl was a great coach but in one year broke a lot of rules and lied so he got the boot. Hamilton from what I have read did a lot for UT sports.The only thing I hear is a whole lot of name calling about Kiffin we were losing and he took us back to winning yes he left but he still had a winning season I think the some fans need to just let it go

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CrankE:

So basically a bunch of smoke, but no fire yet. When do we get the actual press release from the Nationally Corrupt Atletics Association?

All the NCAA is going to say after the hearing ends is something like, "We presented UT with all the charges we have made against them and we have received all the information from UT that we need at this time. We will now take the full case under consideration and render our findings in due time."

In other words, we will know nothing concrete until the NCAA hands down its verdict sometime in August or September, though we will no doubt see a LOT of speculation from many directions. The wait will be a killer but we will just have to find some other things to occupy our minds and time until the final decision is made. No point in worrying about things we can't change, but many of us will anyway.

flafan2001 writes:

in response to CrankE:

So basically a bunch of smoke, but no fire yet. When do we get the actual press release from the Nationally Corrupt Atletics Association?

I see you're still in denial. Based on this logic, I'm sure the NCAA will be issuing an apology to UT for wasting the school's time and getting BB coach and AD fired. The 12 major violations must just be a smokescreen.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to C:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks for your kind words. It would well behoove all of us Vol fans to try to avoid getting caught up in worrying about worst-case scenarios. It may not be as bad as we fear and even if it is, the sun WILL come up tomorrow. If THAT doesn't happen, we will have worse problems than worrying about the future of our athletic program!

madrigal writes:

OK, it's done, can we PLEASE stop hearing about L*** K****n now? He is water over the dam and WAY on down the river.

Orange_Scooter writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We all know that is a lie. You were on here posting. You don't "go" to Vandy games. Or, if by "go to Vandy games" you meant "post on UT sites", then hey, glad you had fun. You delusional idiot.

murrayvol writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

Name calling help you any? Kiffin is likely scum, but Mike Hamilton is a very good man. Likely was in over his head, but he is a good man.

The time frame of these issues is the NCAA version of cruel and unusual punishment.

Agree on Hamilton. He must be wondering how it all came to this.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to knoxtenn:

Amazing that such a combination of incompetence could hit one university all at the same time. For all of Kiffin's bravado, Pearl's ability to actually coach the game, and Hamilton's long-time loyalty, their combined lack of discernment is simply phenomenol. For UT to have all 3 there at the same time is stunning.

For all the Hamilton haters and Pearl lovers I will say this- - Hamilton has the least culpability of any of these, and if these guys had all done their jobs within the rules the fickle majority would be praising the guy.

Hamilton is the one who hired Kiffin and Pearl. How could he not be partly responsible? He hired Kiffin and staff,including Orgeron, knowing what kind of staff they were. UT even reported Orgeron when he was coach of Ole Miss for violations. They also knew that Kiffin was Off co. during the Reggie Bush fiasco. Pearl was a good hire, but Hamilton didnt realize till too late and backed Pearl until he realized that they were going to get hit with major sanctions. Bottom line is they were all responsible, and now they are all gone so hopefully the NCAA will see that UT is dedicated to getting their dignity back.

CLEMSONVOL716WASBANNED writes:

in response to UofTNVol:

Bruce Pearl and Mike Hamilton are two good guys caught in the eye of the storm. Bruce Pearl will be the first and last coach to screw up and actually own it. You wait and see. This is the first and last damn time you will EVER see that happen.

Too funny..."own up to it' ...he was caught red handed and then asked others to lie for him too. That's the biggest part of why UT is in the trouble it's in.

As far as the last one to "own up"...Jim Tressel "owned up" to his too...after it was proven that he had lied. Doesn't take much to come clean after that does it?

I think Pearl did a great job while he was here..too bad that he ruined it and shafted the program and fans in the process.

mjo2727 writes:

Did they play Send In The Clowns when it was time for the hearing to begin?

hueypilot writes:

Just exactly what constitues a "Major" violation? I understand Pearl's lie. So the kids at his house for a cookout, that's major? The excessive phone calls to recruits. That's Major? A Mom got 2 or 4 tickets to her son's basketball game. That's Major? Pearl had contact with a player at a camp. He spoke to him. That's Major?

What do you call what USC did in the Reggie Bush and multiple other actions under Carroll? What do you call the Logan Young affair at Alabama? What will they call what Tressel is pretty convincingly accused of at Columbus? A really really, big, bad Major violation.

I don't mean to minimize these issues, but there needs to be some measure of balance in all this. It doesn't look much like it is to this admittedly subjective observer.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow, if my football program stunk as bad as Vandy's , I wouldnt get on an opposing teams website and talk trash about baseball. I bet UT's womens basketball brings in more money that any sport at Vandy. Vandy will just choke like they always do anyway.

rustyvango#1397221 writes:

in response to ColoVol:

Bruce Pearl was a great recruiter, leader and mentor to these kids in basketball. Unfortunately, he took his aggressiveness to win too far and broke the rules. His cardinal sin was lying about what he did. Truly unfortunate for CBP - I think he's deep down a top notch guy who lost his way.

Lane Kiffin and Mike Hamilton are both low-life scum bags. GOOD RIDDANCE! We have a looooooong way to go now in football, basketball and baseball thanks to our fearless athletic director through 6/7/2011!

we think this is a karma thing,for too long UT has been all about the sports,not so much about education.being completely objective,their involvement in sports should take a back seat to what all universities are actually for.

reform4 writes:

Funny, I remember when universities were actually focused on teaching and education. Guess I'm an old fart.

nepperso#220348 writes:

Eight to twelve weeks before we know anything? Bureaucracy is killing America. Gov't, business, and sports. Here the facts and make a decision. Cheese and Rice!

smokies_old_soul writes:

"He (Pearl) along with the rest of the characters who piled in to the ballroom Saturday morning" ...............

"rest of the characters" ?????

hey Andrew, did you skip Freshman English - that sounds like something a 5th grader would write.

FWBVol writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That only shows that even a blind squirrel finds a nut on occasion. Come back and talk when Vandy makes it to the CWS four times, like UT has, or wins it all, which, I know UT has never done in baseball.

If you really are a Vandy grad you should be able to comprehend that this piece has nothing to do with Vandy, but rather how the NCAA violations could haunt Kiffin, Pearl and Hamilton the rest of their careers.

barefoot43 writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wins with class?
What a joke. I have been around Vandy fans for 50 years. They (you) don't have any history of "winning" much less with class. Vandy equals losing (losers) and they have always been bad, very bad losers. As much practice as you have had at losing one would think you could at least lose with dignity. Please show up with something more than your weak pathetic attempt at trash talking. Though pretty much everything you ever post here is trash.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Waste of time and space. Waste of money. What a waste. Not the article but the "trial" of the career criminals. The lawyers are loving all this. (nothing wrong with that if you're a lawyer)

smokies_old_soul writes:

the sad story here is Bruce Pearl.

unless he is just a wolf in sheep's clothing like some say, i think his downfall was letting success go to his head.

first he goes for the young wife and leaves behind the woman who loved him before he made big money, then the ridiculous $2 million house which he showcases in the paper.

Then Pearl abandons his basketball roots and drifts away from recruiting players to fit his system. He thought he had to have the McDonalds All American. He signed some blue chip kids, but surprise, surprise, they wouldn't work hard enough to make Pearl's signature pressing defense effective anymore. He sold his soul to the pursuit of these big-time recruits when Vol fans would have been happier supporting teams like Pearl had his first two years in Knoxville.

as for whoever called Mike Hamilton scum, you are a real idiot. Hamilton was very effective with fund raising and facilities. he accomplished so much in those areas that Tennessee probably now has the best overall athletic facilities in the country.

But Hamilton isn't, by nature, an athlete or a coach. that perspective is just not in him and his decisons regarding coaches reflected his lack of understanding in that area.

Of course, there is a lot more to a person than how they perform their jobs and Mike Hamilton, by all accounts, is a very good man who in the end, may have a better perspective on what's really important in life than the rest of us football crazed Vol zealots.

hueypilot writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Congratulations Sonny. You should circle this day on the calendar and put it in the family Bible and when you're old and gray you can tell your grandkids about the day you got to gloat to UT fans. Enjoy it. They'll probably say, "you mean Vandy was in the SEC back in the olden days grampa?"

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to tmcretired:

I have been in Tennessee 3 years I am a vol fan I had one year of Fulmer a losing year a year of Kiffin a wining year and one year of Dooley a losing year.I think Pearl was a great coach but in one year broke a lot of rules and lied so he got the boot. Hamilton from what I have read did a lot for UT sports.The only thing I hear is a whole lot of name calling about Kiffin we were losing and he took us back to winning yes he left but he still had a winning season I think the some fans need to just let it go

I think We got very lucky that the NCAA only found 2 Major infractions on Kiffin's watch. One thing is for sure, Lane Kiffin has very substantial political connections somewhere. The NCAA has gone easy (in my opinion)on him while throwing the book at Pearl. I think there could have been many more infractions charged against Kiffin if someone, somewhere, wasn't looking over him.

Titan writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You must be really perplexed. What if Vandy should actually win the World Series? How would you decide on whether to wear your new baseball national champions T-shirt or your bowling national champ T-shirt? So many choices - so little time.

SummittsCourt writes:

All I have to say is "When's Kickoff?"

VolGrad writes:

Perhaps the University of Tennessee can hire Pearl as one of their cheerleading coaches, eh?

theoldbear writes:

in response to madisonvillevol:

just a thought: a great leader, mentor, or a top notch guy doesn't have a problem with "losing his way."

Yeah, they do, and that is the sad part. I've seen so many (Woody Hayes and Jim Tressel at Ohio State to name two) who get caught up in the power and the pressure, and fail to live up to the very principles they voice.

Somewhere in the Bible it says "to whom much is given much is required."

That's what separates the great coaches (Bear Bryant, General Neyland, John Wooden) from the "could have been greats".

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