I agree it doesn't make sense that the law firm would try to sabotage the coaches. For what it's worth, telling someone who is about to be interviewed or deposed to only answer the question being asked is a pretty basic thing for a lawyer to do. That does NOT mean they're being asked to lie. It's just the safest way to handle the situation because too often people talk too much about irrelevant things that suddenly become relevant simply because they've talked about them and/or say things that can be misconstrued. If they knew someone in the photo but weren't asked about that person, and as a result didn't say anything, then that is a well-coached client. In fact, I'd say it's a bad interviewer if they didn't ask about everyone in the photo ("Do you know this person?") or ask a catch-all questoin like "Is there any other information you can provide about this photo?"
When asked about a grainy photo of Bruce Pearl and then-prospect Aaron Craft, Tennessee assistant coaches Tony Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes didn’t offer up much in the way of information about the photo.
Asked if the photo was taken in Pearl’s home, they said they couldn’t tell. One suggested the shot could’ve been Photoshopped.
Shay’s wife was in the photo, but the assistant didn’t point that out to investigators.
“(Attorney) Michael Glazier advised all of us coaches to just answer the questions that were being asked and do not elaborate on anything,” Jones told Mike Griffith of The Knoxville News Sentinel. “The question that was posed to me was, did I recognized where this grainy photo of Bruce Pearl and Aaron Craft was taken; there was a microwave in the background. We have a microwave in the Pratt Pavilion, where Aaron was also around Bruce, so I could not say for certain that the picture was taken at Bruce’s house. I was being truthful, and I answered the question to the best of my recollection.”
Jones also states that he was “never charged with lying to the committee or unethical conduct.” Instead he was hit with “not being forthcoming.”
At this point, it’s probably best for Jones, Shay and Forbes to stop talking about their takedown. Whether he’s telling the truth or not, there aren’t 10 people who are going to read Jones’ latest statement and believe that he really couldn’t tell and didn’t know where a photo was taken.
Jones isn’t the first ex-UT coach to toss some blame at UT’s counsel. Pearl’s attorney said that Tennessee’s lawyer didn’t reveal the photo to the coaches until moments before their meetings with investigators… despite having known about the photo for days. And at least one other ex-assistant has said off the record that Glazier told the coaches not to volunteer — no pun intended — too much information.
But as we asked last month, why would an attorney who specializes in NCAA cases try to undermine UT’s coaches in anyway? Remember, the school chose to stand by Pearl and crew long after their meetings with investigators.
We’re not buying any conspiracy theories on this one. And as much as UT’s ex-coaches want to clear their names and spin things into a more positive direction, they’d be best zipping their lips and moving forward with their lives. This isn’t a PR battle that they can win at this point. Fair or not.