Pearl, Kiffin among involved parties as university’s meeting with NCAA set for June 10th
After months of speculation, the news finally arrived in Knoxville.
On Wednesday, the University of Tennessee publicly released a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA after a 22-month investigation into the school's men's basketball, baseball and football programs.
The 26-page notice, received by the university on Tuesday, alleges that the men's basketball and football programs violated NCAA rules. The baseball program, listed in the NCAA's initial Letter of Inquiry released on Sept. 10, 2010, was not mentioned in the notice.
"Any allegation from the NCAA is a serious matter for us," UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in a statement. "And we'll address these issues in a timely manner. As an institution, we have been proactive in dealing with these allegations, and we will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA."
Tennessee's receiving of the notice means the NCAA has concluded its initial review and fact-finding period.
"Receipt of the NCAA's Notice of Allegations by the University of Tennessee is another step in brining this matter to conclusion," UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said in a statement. "Our institution has operated in complete cooperation with the NCAA since April 2009 as they have pursued their investigation.
"We take these allegations seriously and most items noted in this document have already been reported broadly. I would like to thank the NCAA enforcement staff for their professionalism and guidance during this process."
The most severe allegations were against the men's basketball program.
"The receipt of today's notice brings us one step closer to a final resolution in this matter," coach Bruce Pearl said in a statement. "Throughout the process, we have recognized that we made significant mistakes, and we look forward to concluding this matter with the NCAA."
Allegations against Pearl
- "Acted contrary to the principles of ethical conduct...by initially providing false and misleading information to the institution and the (NCAA) enforcement staff" during an interview on June 14, 2010, when he was shown a photograph of a recruit in his home and failed to identify where the photo was taken or who another person in the photo was.
- "Failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance" and "failed to monitor the activities regarding compliance of all his assistant men's basketball coaches" encompassing three other allegations in the notice.
- "Impermissible contact with prospective student-athletes" along with associate head coach Tony Jones regarding an "off-campus contact" with a high school junior "on or about Sept. 14, 2010."
Other allegations against the men's basketball program
- "96 impermissible telephone recruiting calls to 12 men's basketball prospective student-athletes or their family members" by Pearl, associate head coach Tony Jones and assistant coaches Jason Shay and Steve Forbes.
- Forbes, Shay and Jones "violated the NCAA's principles of honesty when (they) failed to provide full and complete information to the institute and the enforcement staff and failed to protect the integrity of the investigation" when each were interviewed by UT and NCAA enforcement staffs on June 14, 2010.
Pearl and his assistant coaches had salary reductions and recruiting restrictions in September 2010, and Pearl was later suspended the first eight conferece games of the 2010-11 basketball season by SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, after Pearl admitted to providing the "false and misleading information" to the NCAA during his initial interview with them on June 14, 2010.
"The penalties imposed on our program to date have been severe, but I want to commend our student-athletes and staff for staying focused and working through these potential distractions," Pearl said. "The support of our fans and administration has been amazing and appreciated by me and my entire family, and reminds me every day why I have the best job in the nation. I appreciate the opportunity to serve the University of Tennessee, and everyone in our basketball program is focused on finding ways to improve every day."
The university was also alleged to have failed to monitor the men's basketball coaching staff in regards to the excess phone calls made by the coaches.
The allegations against the football program stem from when Lane Kiffin coached Tennessee before leaving for USC after one season.
Allegation against Kiffin
- "Failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the football program and failed to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant coaches...and an athletics administrator involved with the football program who reported directly or indirectly to Kiffin" regarding a seperate allegation.
That allegation states:
- "Former members of the football coaching staff.... engaged in impermissible recruiting activities with prospective student-athletes."
Because the allegations were against Kiffin, and not Tennessee, USC also received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA.
"We have received the notice of allegations," Kiffin said in a statement. "On the advice of my legal counsel, we cannot comment other than to say we look forward to working through the process with the NCAA."
The university has until May 21, 2011, a 90-day period, to submit its response to the NCAA regarding the notice. The university is expected to go before the NCAA Committee on Infractions during the committees' meeting from June 10-11, 2011.