Photo lands embattled Arkansas coach in even more trouble

If being on his way to three straight seasons without an NCAA tournament berth didn't already put Arkansas coach John Pelphrey's job in jeopardy, then an apparent recruiting violation might.

A photo obtained by shows Pelphrey posing with Class of 2012 recruits Archie Goodwin and Trey Smith of Sylvan Hill High at a high school tournament last December. The photo would be a violation of NCAA rules because coaches are not allowed to have off-campus contact with players until the summer after their junior year.

Arkansas released a statement Thursday that said school officials "will gather information and review to determine whether a violation has occurred." rates Goodwin as the No. 3 shooting guard in the class of 2012 and the No. 18 player nationally.

Even a minor violation will not help the perception of Pelphrey, who has come under fire in recent weeks as attendance has slipped and the team has fallen out of NCAA tournament contention.

A quarter-page ad appeared in all editions of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last week urging fans to voice their concerns about the Razorbacks' basketball program to university administrators. The ad reportedly cost just under $3,200, a hefty price simply to express disappointment with a coach.

The drawback to caving to public pressure and firing Pelphrey would be that it could put his highly touted 2011 recruiting class in jeopardy. Elite point guard B.J. Young, fellow guard Ky Madden and forward Hunter Mickelson headline a five-man class considered to be one of the best in the nation.

In a similar scenario this time last year, NC State coach Sidney Lowe received a one-year reprieve in order to keep his recruiting class intact. We'll probably find out in the next few weeks if Pelphrey is afforded the same courtesy.

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