- Associated Press - Thursday, March 10, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. (AP) - Arkansas is reviewing a report suggesting coach John Pelphrey had contact with a pair of 2012 recruits in violation of NCAA rules.

The report from CBSSports.com includes a picture of Pelphrey with Sylvan Hills (Ark.) High standout Archie Goodwin and teammate Trey Smith at a high school tournament last December. NCAA rules say coaches cannot have off-campus contact with a prospect until the July 1 following the prospect’s junior year in high school.

Goodwin and Smith are still juniors and will lead Sylvan Hills into the Arkansas Class 5A state championship game on Friday.

“We’re certainly very sensitive to those things and take all that stuff very, very seriously,” Pelphrey said after Arkansas lost to Tennessee 74-68 in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Thursday night.

“It will be looked into with regards to our compliance people,” Pelphrey said. “If there’s something there, we’ll certainly cooperate, be forthcoming.”

University spokesman Kevin Trainor said the school was first made aware of the potential violation on Thursday.

“As with any potential compliance issue, the institution will gather information and review to determine whether a violation has occurred,” the school said in a statement. “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 procedure.”

Pelphrey has a 69-58 record in four years at Arkansas and hasn’t reached the NCAA tournament since his first season in 2007-08. The Razorbacks (18-12) were set to play Tennessee on Thursday night in the opening round of the SEC tournament in Atlanta.

Pelphrey has come under fire in recent weeks as home attendance dipped for the fourth straight season.

The school averaged 12,022 in 18 games in the 19,200-seat Bud Walton Arena this season, down from 17,148 in Pelphrey’s first season.

During its national championship season of 1993-94, Arkansas averaged 20,134 at home. This season, the school drew a season-high 14,174 for its game against Mississippi on Feb. 5.

Last week, an advertisement in a statewide newspaper raised concerns about the direction of the basketball program. The ad in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette called on Razorback fans to contact university officials “on the future of Arkansas basketball before too much time passes.” It listed addresses for university officials, including the school’s Board of Trustees members.

Pelphrey said he was aware of the ad but defended the program’s future, while also saying he wouldn’t let himself be distracted by action away from the court.

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