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NCAA accuses Vols of violations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl and former football coach Lane Kiffin committed recruiting violations and failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance, the NCAA concluded after a 22-month investigation.

The NCAA notified the school of a dozen rules violations by the coaches, their assistants and the school itself in a letter released by the school on Wednesday.

The school has until May 21 to respond and is expected to appear at a June 10-11 meeting of the Committee on Infractions. A final decision by the NCAA and any sanctions handed down likely would come several weeks after that. The allegations are considered major violations.

Pearl has been charged with unethical conduct after misleading NCAA investigators in a June 14 interview about hosting high school juniors at a cookout at his house on Sept. 20, 2008, and phoning John Craft, father of recruit Aaron Craft, during the probe in an effort to influence Craft's statement to investigators about the cookout. Craft now is a freshman at Ohio State.

Tennessee reduced Pearl's salary by $1.5 million over four seasons and banned him from off-campus recruiting for a year. The SEC also suspended him for eight conference games this season.

The NCAA alleges Pearl's assistants — Tony Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay — "violated the NCAA's principles of honesty" by not providing complete information to investigators about the cookout.

Pearl, Jones and Forbes are also accused of making 96 impermissible phone calls to 12 recruits or relatives of recruits between Aug. 1, 2007, and July 29, 2009.

Kiffin, now coach at USC, and his assistants are accused of making improper phone calls to recruits even after UT officials warned them. Kiffin allegedly made impermissible phone calls to recruits from Jan. 3-9, 2010, days before ending his 14-month tenure at Tennessee. Among the recipients of the calls was Seantrel Henderson, who signed with USC after Kiffin was hired but was later released from his commitment.

"On the advice of my legal counsel, we cannot comment other than … we look forward to working through the process with the NCAA," Kiffin said.

Kiffin and recruiting intern Steve Rubio also allegedly visited a Florida high school on Oct. 12, 2009, after Tennessee officials warned Kiffin that Rubio was not permitted to make on-campus visits.

Kiffin's failure-to-monitor charge also stems from trips taken by members of the school's athletics hostess program, called Orange Pride, to visit recruits. Student hostesses were directed to recruit players off campus in South Carolina, the New York Times reported.

"Any allegation from the NCAA is a serious matter for us, and we will address these issues in a timely manner," Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek said.

NCAA accuses Vols of violations 02/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 11:24pm]
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