Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl has been suspended for the first eight games of the 2011 SEC season by commissioner Mike Slive as a result of his conduct and recruiting violations that are under investigation by the NCAA.
A letter from Slive sent on Thursday mandates that Pearl be "prohibited from participating directly or indirectly in any team or individual activities, including but not limited to practices, meetings, pre- and post-game activities, and the game itself.''
By order of the letter, Pearl cannot be present in the playing facility two hours prior to scheduled tip-off until one hour following conclusion of the games he's suspended. Associate head coach Tony Jones will assume Pearl’s duties during those games.
"While disappointed in the severity of commissioner Slive's additional punishment, we respect that he is acting on the authority that the league's athletic directors, presidents, and chancellors granted him earlier this year to address matters of his nature,'' UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in a prepared statement.
"As we move forward, we are hopeful the Tennessee family will now rally behind Coach Pearl, his staff and particularly our student-athletes as they focus on the 2010-11 season, and we advance toward bringing this matter to conclusion over the next several months.''
Pearl will miss the following games:
--Jan. 8, at Arkansas
--Jan. 11 vs. Florida
--Jan. 15 vs. Vanderbilt
--Jan. 18 at Georgia
--Jan. 26 vs. LSU
--Jan. 29 at Ole Miss
--Feb. 3 at Auburn
--Feb. 5 vs. Alabama
The letter does not state that Pearl must miss the Vols non-conference at Connecticut on Jan. 22.
Pearl's first SEC game back will be on Feb. 8 at Kentucky.
The Vols received a letter of inquiry on Sept. 10 informing the school that the basketball program was under investigation as a result of various recruiting improprieties.
UT has self-imposed a number of unprecedented sanctions, including a one-year off-campus recruiting ban for Pearl that began on Sept. 24 and a $1.5 million reduction in Pearl's salary over the next five years.
Pearl is working under a letter of appointment, as his contract remains unsigned.
UT is currently re-working Pearl's contract after its first offer to him on Oct. 9 included provisions that both parties have since deemed inappropriate.
The unresolved issues in Pearl's contract do not deal with Pearl's salary or bonus clauses, according to university sources familiar with the contract provisions.
The sources asked not to be identified because of the ongoing negotiations.
UT is expected to receive a letter of allegations in December. From there, the case will go to into the summary disposition phase before ultimately going before the NCAA infractions committee as early as February but more likely in April.
More details as they develop online and in Saturday's News Sentinel.