|High school juniors Trey Smith and Archie Goodwin with John Pelphrey in December. (Provided to CBSSports.com)|
Arkansas basketball coach John Pelphrey had off-campus contact this season with two Class of 2012 prospects, in violation of NCAA rules.
In a photograph obtained by CBSSports.com, Pelphrey is shown posing with Sylvan Hill High standout Archie Goodwin (a consensus top-20 national recruit) and teammate Trey Smith last December at a high school tournament in Conway, Ark. Bylaw 126.96.36.199 states that off-campus contact cannot be made with a prospect (or his relatives or legal guardians) before July 1, following the completion of his junior year of high school. Goodwin and Smith are still in their junior years of high school.
Both confirmed the authenticity of the photograph in separate phone calls with CBSSports.com and described the conversation with Pelphrey as brief. But according to the NCAA, any face-to-face encounter between a coach and a prospect that takes place at the site of an organized competition involving the prospect or the prospect's high school is a "contact," regardless of the conversation that occurs.
Smith told CBSSports.com that his mother took the photo.
"My mom was like, 'Hey, go get a picture,'" Smith said. "So we snapped a picture."
Arkansas officials issued a statement Thursday morning:
"As with any potential compliance issue, the institution will gather information and review to determine whether a violation has occurred. If, after a thorough review of the facts, it is determined a violation has occurred, the University of Arkansas will take appropriate action in reporting the information consistent with all established procedures."
The Razorbacks play Tennessee in the SEC tournament Thursday night. It's an ironic first-round matchup considering the NCAA has charged Vols coach Bruce Pearl with major recruiting violations stemming from a similar photograph snapped in September 2008 that shows improper contact between Pearl and Aaron Craft. Now a freshman point guard for top-ranked Ohio State, Craft was a high school junior at the time of the photograph.
Tennessee announced last month that the NCAA has also charged Pearl with improper contact with Class of 2012 standout Jordan Adams. According to UT's notice of allegations, Pearl and assistant Tony Jones had a two-to-three-minute conversation with the high school junior at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia before a practice last September.
Tennessee has until May 21 to answer the allegations.
Pelphrey's future at Arkansas has been unclear in recent weeks -- despite a strong recruiting class signed and set to enroll -- because the Razorbacks finished with a losing SEC record for the third straight season and continued to suffer a decline in attendance. There was an advertisement in the statewide Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper last week urging fans to contact university officials "on the future of Arkansas basketball before too much time passes."
Pelphrey responded by telling reporters he remains focused on the "task at hand."