Arkansas head basketball coach John Pelphrey's day got off to a bad start and it didn't get any better as Thursday went along.> Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reported early Thursday that Pelphrey had committed an NCAA violation in December by having his picture taken with Sylvan Hills juniors Archie Goodwin and Trey Smith.
The article had the picture – taken after a game in Conway - included with it and noted that NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52 states that off-campus contact cannot be made with a prospect (or his relatives or legal guardians) before July 1.
"We're certainly very sensitive to those things and take all that very, very seriously," Pelphrey said Thursday night after his team's 74-68 loss to Tennessee in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
"It will be looked into in terms of our compliance people," Pelphrey added. "If there's something there, we'll cooperate and be forthcoming."
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long issued a statement late Thursday afternoon, but chose not to talk about the situation publicly while in Atlanta on Thursday.
"We became aware of a potential compliance issue this (Thursday) morning regarding contact with prospective men's basketball student-athletes," Long said in the school release. "If the facts are as we understand them to be at this time, it would appear to be a secondary violation. Before making any final determination, we will certainly take the appropriate time to review all of the facts and then act appropriately."
The Arkansas athletic department released this statement earlier on Thursday.
"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."
Speculation has been swirling about Pelphrey's job status after three straight seasons in which the team has been bounced from the SEC Tournament in the opening round.
The Razorbacks (18-13) did go to finals of the SEC Tournament and on to the NCAA Tournament in Pelphrey's first season and did have a winning season after 14-16 and 14-18 campaigns.
Pelphrey was asked if he had done enough to to remain the head coach at Arkansas after season four - and also if he thought this was his last game as head coach of the Razorbacks.
"We'll talk about our team tonight and we'll talk about the NCAA Tournament," Pelphrey said. "...There will be a time for that reflection here at some point in time. I look forward to it."
Long is expected to meet with Pelphrey in the near future to evaluate his job status as is done each season.
Arkansas did confirm it had put in a bid to host an NIT game if the Razorbacks are selected for the tournament although that is far from a certainty.
"Obviously we are trying to gather ourself back up here and there is a lot of emotions still running through us, but I think if we had a chance to keep playing we would be excited about that," Pelphrey said.
Goodwin, a 6-5 guard who is regarded as one of the nation's top 20 2012 prospect by Scout.com, and Smith are slated to play for the Class 5A state championship Friday night in Hot Springs.
Smith noted that his mom took the picture.
It is ironic that Arkansas is facing Tennessee on Thursday night. Volunteers head coach Bruce Pearl was charged with major recruiting violations from a photograph taken back in 2008.
The photo showed Pearl with then-junior and current Ohio State freshman Aaron Craft.
Pearl was also charged with improper contact with 2012 high school prospect Jordan Adams, who Pearl and assistant coach Tony Jones talked to for a few minutes before an Oak Hill Academy practice in September.
Pelphrey's contract lists a "dismissal for cause" clause for knowingly participating in significant or repetitive violations.
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