What a mess. I have thought it was #3, but after reading this, you may be right. If it is #2, is it safe to say that will eventually come out? I haven't kept up with the GA Tech sanctions so I'm not sure how that came to light about the NCAA asking them to keep their mouths shut.
Last summer, NCAA officials told University of Tennessee officials that they had a photo of Bruce Pearl standing with a recruit. They wanted to ask the coaching staff about that picture. But according to the attorney for Pearl, UT didn’t pass that information along to him or his staff until the day of their initial interview with the NCAA.
At the interview with investigators, Pearl lied, saying that the photo of himself and Aaron Craft — now at Ohio State — was not taken at his home. His assistants used plausible deniability to dodge the question. And the rest is history.
Last week, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Tennessee outside counsel Mike Glazier knew of the photograph a full six days before the meeting. Since then, the paper has tried to determine why Pearl and his staff were not told of the photo when Glazier and the school learned of its existence.
“Attempts to obtain clarification from Glazier on Monday were unsuccessful,” writes The Sentinel’s Mike Strange. “UT did not elaborate.”
“We will let the response speak for itself and won’t be commenting further,” a Tennessee spokesperson said.
Pearl and his ex-aides aren’t talking either.
So what gives? Here are three theories:
1. Glazier — who often represents schools in NCAA cases — was hired to represent the school and not the coaches. For that reason, the coaches were already being set up as potential scapegoats by the university.
But there’s a big problem with that theory. If UT officials were setting up Pearl in June of 2010, why did the school stand beside him so steadfastly in September? Why did it risk further potential NCAA punishment and hours of negative publicity by keeping Pearl on the payroll for another full season?
Sorry, but the “UT was setting up Pearl” theory doesn’t make much sense.
2. UT officials were told to keep quiet about the photo so NCAA investigators could get an honest, immediate response from Vol coaches.
Just two weeks ago, the NCAA said Georgia Tech officials had “hindered” its investigation into that school by notifying Tech’s football coaches that a probe was coming… after being told not to do so.
If the NCAA told Tech officials not to tell their coaches what was coming, it seems quite possible that the same might have occurred at Tennessee.
But if the NCAA told the school not to inform Pearl or his coaches of its photographic evidence, what was Glazier doing telling the coaches of the photo just minutes before their interviews? He shouldn’t have warned them at all.
3. Tennessee officials and counsel were simply incompetent. They somehow dropped the ball. Pearl and his crew should have and could have been notified, but no one got them the message.
Several years worth of bungling by the UT administration give this theory some clout. Still, it’s hard to believe this was a simple case of miscommunication.
At MrSEC.com, we believe Theory #2 makes the most sense. But that doesn’t explain why Glazier did eventually warn the coaches of the photo. Or why UT officials haven’t leaked the NCAA’s hypothetical “don’t tell anyone” order to the press in self-defense.