Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com has a source who shed more light on the Bruce Pearl investigation at Tennessee.
The source says that the main problem for Pearl is not his impermissible phone calls, but rather an incident in 2008 when he hosted two recruits at his home. The recruits were still juniors, and NCAA rules prohibit coaches from meeting with recruits off campus before those players' senior years.
When an investigator called Pearl about this gathering, Pearl claimed that the two recruits had never been to his home. Except, the NCAA had already obtained a photograph of both Pearl and one of the recruits at the house. So it wasn't an elaborate coverup of any kind that got Pearl in trouble; he simply lied on the phone once when an investigator called.
Not that lying to the NCAA's pseudo police is a good thing, because that's always a recipie for trouble. He almost certainly thought that the NCAA had no evidience and figured he could get away with it with a fib.