Andy Katz and Dana O’Neil filed a report today that pretty well destroys the argument that Bruce Pearl’s self-described ‘mistake’ in having former Tennessee recruits Josh Selby and Aaron Craft over to his house was a one-time thing. This new information begs several questions, not least of which is whether this is a modus operandi for Pearl in his usual recruiting strategies, and how many other unknown occurrences might there be? According to the story:
Kevin Fitzgerald, the compliance director at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee — where Pearl previously coached — confirmed that the university self-reported a violation on Aug. 19, 2004, after “Coach Pearl invited a prospect [and his parents] to his daughter’s graduation party hosted at his house, a violation of 13.05.5.3.”
The recruit in question was independently confirmed as 6’9 forward Mike Shachtner, a three-time academic all-american who graduated from Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2009. Schachtner is currently playing ball overseas and refused to comment for Katz/O’Neil’s story, but it’s fairly clear that if UWM reported it to the NCAA and Pearl later confirmed it today, it happened. We honestly have no idea if the NCAA will use this information to punish Pearl, and by proxy, UT, for violating the same rule twice (and lying about it the second time — at least we have a better understanding as to the ‘why’ now), but it would seem incredibly difficult to believe the NCAA won’t at least take it into consideration when meting out its punishment.
The other thing that we have to wonder about is whether Tennessee brass were aware of this violation when the school hired Pearl back in 2005. It’d be astonishing if UT as part of its due diligence failed to request all self-reported violations under Pearl’s tenure at UWM, so we have to assume that they did. Imagine if Pearl somehow was able to keep that information to himself during his original interviews and subsequent contract negotiations? Given that Pearl’s existing deal with Tennessee is extremely restrictive in terms of the elements of “cause” for the program to justify firing him, it would seem to our untrained eyes that if he kept secret that rather relevant information, they would have grounds to void the contract for misrepresentation under false pretense. A lot of speculation here, but an interesting thought nonetheless.
No matter what comes out of this, we wonder if anyone else sees the obvious problem here? Put simply, Pearl needs to trick out his casa a little better. We now know of three players he was recruiting during their junior years who visited his crib, but none of the three ultimately signed with the guy. Put in the infinity pool, buy a Bose stereo system for the deck, go for the 66-inch 3D television, offer free iPads to the first hundred visitors if that’s what it takes… because whatever he’s doing when he takes recruits to his house for a short visit isn’t working out too well.