- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Tennessee's football program has been accused of making impermissible phone calls and having impermissible contact with recruits under former coach Lane Kiffin, according to the NCAA notice of allegations released Wednesday.
But the most serious charges by the NCAA were directed at Kiffin himself.
Kiffin, who left Tennessee following the 2009 season to coach at USC, was cited for failure to monitor an atmosphere of compliance within the Vols program and failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant football coaches.
The Tennessee football program was not cited for failure to monitor following a 22-month investigation by the NCAA that also included men's basketball and baseball.
Among the allegations, the NCAA charged Vols basketball coach Bruce Pearl with acting unethically and failing to monitor compliance activities by his basketball staff. The NCAA did not levy any charges against Tennessee's baseball program.
"Receipt of the NCAA's notice of allegations by the University of Tennessee is another step in bringing this matter to conclusion," said Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton, who hired Kiffin as head coach. "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."
Kiffin, in a statement released through USC, declined to comment on the advice of his legal counsel other than to say he "looked forward to working through the process with the NCAA."
Tennessee will have until May 21 to respond to these charges and is expected to go before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions June 10-11 in Indianapolis.
USC athletic director Pat Haden said it would be premature for him to comment on the charges involving Kiffin at Tennessee, but Haden offered a show of support.
"Since his return to USC last year as our head football coach, Lane has been vigilant in making sure he and the football program follow the NCAA's rules and compete the right way," Haden said in a statement. "Lane has my support as our head football coach."
As detailed in the NCAA's report, the impermissible phone calls Kiffin and members of his former staff at Tennessee made occurred between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9 of last year. Kiffin and the coaches made the calls despite being warned by Tennessee compliance officials that such calls were impermissible under NCAA rules, the NCAA's report stated.
Sources told ESPN.com that the calls were made to players during the period of high school all-star games around the country. Among the players listed in the NCAA's report who received calls were Brandon Willis, Seantrel Henderson and Ahmad Dixon.
The impermissible contact charge levied by the NCAA revolves around the Tennessee hostesses' trip to Duncan, S.C., to watch Willis and current Tennessee defensive end Corey Miller play in a game on Sept. 25, 2009 as then-seniors at Byrnes High School.
Sources told ESPN.com that former Tennessee assistant coach David Reaves is accused of giving the hostesses money for the trip. The hostesses, Lacy Pearl Earps and Dahra Johnson, were members of the now-defunct Orange Pride.
Reaves' name is mentioned in the NCAA's report, but much of that section was blacked out in what Tennessee provided to the media.
Reaves, who is Kiffin's brother-in-law, spent last season as the quarterbacks coach at New Mexico. He was the receivers coach at Tennessee under Kiffin and recruited the state of South Carolina, but did not follow Kiffin to USC.
A third violation involving the Tennessee program, as outlined in the NCAA's report, occurred on Oct. 12, 2009 when Kiffin permitted recruiting intern Steve Rubio to make in-person, off-campus contacts with high school administrators at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Rubio attended high school at Saint Thomas Aquinas.
According to the NCAA, this trip occurred despite Tennessee senior associate athletic director David Blackburn informing Kiffin and Rubio two days earlier that Rubio was not permitted to enter a high school's property while accompanying a coach on a recruiting trip.
"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. "As an institution, we have been proactive in dealing with these allegations, and we will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA."
Chris Low covers SEC football for ESPN.com.
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