Bruce Pearl’s Show Cause: Which Schools Might Take a Shot at Him?

Posted by rtmsf on August 24th, 2011

News leaked on Tuesday night that the NCAA will hit Bruce Pearl with a three-year “show cause” penalty for his role in facilitating and later lying about numerous violations while acting as the Tennessee head basketball coach from 2005-11.  We all remember the story of NCAA investigators presenting Pearl with a photograph of current Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft standing next to him at his own cookout, and his subsequent disavowal of knowledge of such a thing.  But his transgressions were considerably more than that incident alone — it was the systematic and rather clumsy attempts at a subsequent cover-up that ultimately doomed the jocular head coach to the harsh penalty he faces today.  Here’s the relevant statement from the NCAA’s 21-page Infractions Report:

A Scene at Pearl's Home, Apparently (credit: KSR)

From the 2008-09 academic year through June 14, 2010, the former head men’s basketball coach acted contrary to the principle of ethical conduct when he knowingly engaged in violations of NCAA recruiting legislation and failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by providing false and misleading information to the institution and the enforcement staff and by attempting to influence others to furnish the institution and enforcement staff false and misleading information concerning their involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a violation of an NCAA regulation.

Ouch.  Once again, the lesson learned from an organization in an authoritative position is that the cover-up carries more weight than the actual crime.

What does this really mean, though?  It seems as if most commentators are interpreting this as an effective banishment of Pearl from the NCAA for the next several years as a direct result of carrying a cheetos-colored letter on his chest, but a reading of the fine print of the NCAA’s report shows that this isn’t true.  Mike DeCourcy points out in an article today that the “show cause” is one of the most misunderstood penalties that the NCAA has at its disposal.  Even a spectacularly reliable source such as Wikipedia states in its first sentence about such a penalty that “a coach involved in major rules violations at a university’s athletic program may not be hired by any other NCAA member institutions without permission from the Infractions Committee for a set period of time.”

In reality, though, Pearl’s version of the “show cause” penalty only places him under rather substantial restrictions should he in fact get another NCAA coaching job in the next three years.  Read the language for yourself:

Therefore, the committee imposes a three-year show-cause period upon the former head men’s basketball coach. During this period, which begins on August 24, 2011, and ends August 23, 2014, the committee prohibits the former head men’s basketball coach from conducting any and all recruiting activities as defined by Bylaw 13.02.13. Within 30 days of the release of this report or 30 days after the hiring of the former head men’s basketball coach, whichever is later, any employing institution shall file a report with the office of the Committees on Infractions setting forth its agreement with these restrictions or asking for a date to appear before the committee to contest the restrictions. Every six months thereafter through the end of the period of the show-cause order, the employing institution shall file further reports detailing its adherence to these restrictions.

Basically, Pearl can coach but he can’t recruit.  That’s a fairly massive and important restriction on a head coach, but it’s not necessarily a prohibitive one.  Again, as DeCourcy argues (and we’re generally in agreement), in a situation where Pearl could be handed a young, perhaps unruly, but talented team, letting his assistants handle recruiting for those three years may not be a huge problem.  Given these restrictions, no current major basketball power is likely to roll the dice with him, but it’s entirely reasonable to think that several down-on-their-luck programs with bigger long-term aspirations might give him a hard look.  Here are a few ideas that rolled off the top of our head, and keep in mind, none of these schools would likely have an opening until next summer at the earliest, and perhaps not even then.

  • Oregon State – The Beavers haven’t been very good for over two decades and any initial excitement about the First Bro-in-Law/head coach, Craig Robinson, has worn off after two subsequent losing seasons.  There’s plenty of talent in the Pacific Northwest that might be attracted simply by the “name” of Bruce Pearl, and his running, pressing, hustling style of play would remind OSU fans of the glory days of basketball in Corvallis under their legendary former head coach, Ralph Miller.
  • South Carolina – The SEC East is familiar territory for Pearl and undoubtedly some players would show up in Columbia without a formal recruitment. With only one NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 13 years, this is a school that seems to want to be relevant in basketball but just hasn’t been able to overcome the powerhouses in their division.  Darrin Horn hasn’t shown a tremendous amount in his three seasons there so far.
  • Virginia – UVA isn’t much different from the Gamecocks in the sense that it’s gotten crowded out by the ACC powerhouses around it — Maryland, Duke, North Carolina, etc.  Still, this program has a strong historical base (see: Ralph Sampson) and although Tony Bennett is a good coach, his hiring was received tepidly throughout the Old Dominion.  Pearl would require some careful finagling with an oft-haughty administration, but he’d back down to nobody in the conference and the fans would love him for it.
  • St. Louis – The Rick Majerus experiment is now entering Year 5 and all there is to show for it is a single NIT appearance two years ago.  Pearl would revitalize a program that has notions of becoming the class of the Atlantic 10, and it shouldn’t be overlooked that he honed his chops in the Midwest for the better part of his coaching career (assistant at Iowa; head coach at Southern Indiana and Wisconsin-Milwaukee for a total of 19 years).
  • Southern Illinois – To that end, Southern Illinois’ Chris Lowery had gone from ‘hottest young coach’ to a mid-major afterthought with the Salukis’ performances over the last three years (8th, 9th, and 7th place finishes in the MVC).  Bringing Bruce Pearl in would fire up a vocal and loyal fanbase in Carbondale not only because of a brand-name coach on campus but also for reasons of entertainment value (SIU is notoriously slow-paced).
rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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2 responses to “Bruce Pearl’s Show Cause: Which Schools Might Take a Shot at Him?”

  1. WakeFan says:

    No way Virginia would hire him. Besides, they are going to turn the corner this year.

  2. ASU FAN says:

    Arizona State after Herb Sendeck shats the bed this season.

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