Tennessee Hits Bruce Pearl Where It Hurts (His Wallet)Posted by nvr1983 on September 10th, 2010
While most of the college basketball world has been focused on the ongoing Enes Kanter saga at Kentucky, the first real punishment of off-season was handed out today to the Wildcats’ SEC rival in Knoxville where the Tennessee administration determined that Bruce Pearl lied to NCAA investigators about excessive recruiting calls made by the Volunteer coaching staff. According to Pearl’s statement, he lied to NCAA investigators during a meeting they had in June about those phone calls (like Kelvin Sampson at Indiana), but due to overwhelming remorse he came to the Tennessee administration with the truth the following month. Upon hearing these revelations the Tennessee administration decided to take preemptive action, as many programs have, in an attempt to lessen NCAA penalties against them. Along with the usual punishments like decreasing the number of official visits recruits can make and limiting recruiting by the staff, they also took the unusual measures of banning Pearl from recruiting off-campus for a year (from September 24, 2010 through September 23, 2011) and essentially taking back $1.5 million of his salary over the next five years, as well as reducing the salary of three assistant coaches by 25% and banning them from recruiting off-campus for anywhere from three months to one year (official document with penalties here).
While this doesn’t mean that the NCAA won’t take additional action against Tennessee, the move is somewhat refreshing in that a major university has finally gone after a coach’s salary for his egregious errors instead of nebulous concepts like rescinding 1-2 recruiting visits per year, although Pearl won’t be on a street corner begging for money any time soon, as he is still scheduled to collect $1.4 million from coaching in 2011 (plus whatever else he gets from endorsements and speaking engagements). The bigger problem for Tennessee’s program will be the off-campus recruiting ban which should have a marked effect, assuming he doesn’t start racking up the cell phone minutes again (the thing that got him into this mess in the first place). Fans of rival programs are understandably giddy at this news, particularly with Pearl’s reputation as a “snitch,” having turned in Illinois for allegedly paying recruit Deon Thomas (full memos here) while Pearl was an assistant at Iowa. Although the Illini were never found guilty of any wrongdoing related to Thomas, the ensuing investigation led NCAA officials to unearth several other violations that led to recruiting restrictions and a one year postseason ban for the Illini. Since that time, Pearl has carried the negative stigma as a “snitch” around with him and many believe it is what prevented him from getting a prominent job for such a long time. As you can imagine, many fan bases will be more than happy to remind Pearl of his wrongdoing and his penalties when the Volunteers are on the road this season.