INDIANAPOLIS - The day of reckoning has arrived for the University of Tennessee.
The school went before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions at a hotel in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday to state its case to college athletics' governing body. The NCAA alleged 12 major infractions in a Notice of Allegations it sent to the school in February.
The meeting, which is closed to the media and the public, began at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning with opening statements. The COI, UT and former coaches Lane Kiffin and David Reaves discussed the two football infractions - a failure to monitor charge and illegal recruiting violations against Kiffin - for nearly four hours.
Kiffin emerged and spoke with the assorted media. He's not allowed to discuss any specifics of the case per NCAA mandate.
"It was a very fair process," said Kiffin, who left UT after one year for Southern Cal. "I’m glad that it’s over so I can get back to (Los Angeles) and get back to our camps that are going on right now. Under the direction of the NCAA we can’t comment about it all.
"It was a lot shorter than the last one. I sat through three days of USC’s, so I’m just happy that it’s over. I’m happy that we got to get the truth presented."
Kiffin called his reunion with a handful of his former bosses and associates at UT "a little bit different," though he did get a chance to speak with Mike Hamilton, who hired Kiffin at UT and resigned as athletic director earlier this week.
"I just wanted to make sure I said to him what I said before in the statement," Kiffin said. "I feel really, really bad for him. It’s an unfortunate situation. I enjoyed him being my boss and I think he’s a great man."
After a lunch break, the COI hearing will continue with UT's former basketball coaching staff - head coach Bruce Pearl and assistants Tony Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay. The staff was charged with misleading NCAA investigators about illegal recruiting activities and 96 impermissible phone calls to recruits.
Hamilton, interim athletic director Joan Cronan, Senior associate athletic director David Blackburn and chancellor Jimmy Cheek are here representing UT, along with the school's compliance personnel and legal representation.
Kiffin and Reaves had one attorney each, and Pearl, sporting an orange tie and orange suspenders, brought a pair of attorneys.
After every UT official left the hearing room after nearly 11 hours, Pearl was the final to emerge. He solemnly spoke to the media.
"You know I can’t comment on it. It’s not over – we’ve got to wait 45 to 60 days to get a response," he said. "It was a good opportunity to visit with the committee. They asked questions, and I think they’ve got a very accurate view of the case, and now we’ll wait for their decisions.
"Not really (a sense of relief), because obviously paid a very heavy price, all of us – the university, my coaching staff and our Tennessee family. There’s not much relief. The hardest part is just being there. It was not something that I was ever expecting or looking forward to to have to be in front of the committee."
More updates online, on Twitter and in Sunday's Times Free Press.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...