published Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

ESPN.com gets details on hoop Vols’ violations


by Wes Rucker

KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee men’s basketball program’s self-reported violations to the NCAA include nearly 100 impermissible phone calls to recruits, according to documents initially obtained by ESPN.com Monday.

UT also admitted that assistant coach Jason Shay approved lodging expenses for the families of three recruits who were coming to town for official visits and that all three recruits visited Knoxville for longer than the NCAA’s allotted 48 hours.

Players on UT’s current roster involved in the matters had their names redacted from the documents, but players who signed elsewhere were mentioned. Those names included Elliot Williams, who signed with Duke, transferred to Memphis and now plays in the NBA; Kansas’ Josh Selby; Florida State’s Chris Singleton; Ohio State’s Aaron Craft; Xavier’s Justin Martin and Griffin McKenzie; and Rico Pickett, who signed with Alabama, transferred to Miami Dade College and then Manhattan and now plays professionally overseas.

UT wrote a memo to SEC commissioner Mike Slive citing “poor record keeping,” “miscommunication” or “carelessness” for the infractions.

According to documents dating from April to July, UT’s self-imposed penalties included reducing the staff’s recruiting calendar from 130 to 104 days, reducing its number of official visits from 12 to eight and banning Jones (three months) and head coach Bruce Pearl (nine days) from making recruiting calls.

UT later punished itself much more severely, when Pearl admitted he gave “incorrect and misleading information” to the NCAA when asked about a picture taken of himself and Craft in Pearl’s living room when the recruit was a high school junior. Prospects aren’t allowed to engage coaches off campus as juniors.

Men’s athletic director Mike Hamilton and chancellor Jimmy Cheek approved a 25 percent salary reduction for Pearl and his assistants and bans on off-campus recruiting for the coaches ranging from one year to three months.

UT has received an official letter of inquiry from the NCAA about an investigation into the entire athletic department. The department ultimately will receive an official notice detailing alleged infractions from the football and men’s basketball programs and possibly the baseball program. UT will respond to that notice before meeting with the infractions committee and receiving a ruling.

Multiple UT officials have said no athletic department employees will speak to the media about specific allegations until the school receives an official notice from the NCAA.

In an interview with SI.com’s Luke Winn on Sunday at the Best of the Best Coaching Clinic at Long Island (N.Y.) Lutheran High School, Pearl said he hoped to keep his job.

“We did what we felt like we needed to do, to take steps proactively to penalize ourselves,” Pearl told Winn. “I think the penalties were unprecedented in some scope. But we made mistakes. We provided false and misleading information to the NCAA.

“I should be made an example of, and I am — I’m embarrassed. But I hope that the things we did don’t rise to the level of termination, because we run a clean program. We got investigated in a lot of areas.”

Contact Wes Rucker at wrucker@timesfreepress.com or 865-851-9739. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/wesrucker or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.

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Livn4life said...

Football, Men's basketball, possibly baseball, wow are we in a mess at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville? How could so much have occurred seemingly so quickly? I certainly hope the NCAA will accept our unprecedented self-inflicted penalties. They do not take kindly to being lied to. Coach Pearl knows that. I hope this and whatever else is lurking in the NCAA's investigation does not negatively impact our athletics department more than it has been recently. Who will be held accoountable if it does?

September 21, 2010 at 6:58 a.m.
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