Bruce Pearl comments on NCAA investigation
Athletic director, chancellor address NCAA investigation
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Bruce Pearl won't be allowed to make off-campus recruiting visits for one year, but two of his commitments for the signing class of 2011 are sticking with the embattled Tennessee men's basketball coach.
"Of course I am,'' said guard Kevin Ware of Rockdale County High in Conyers, Ga., who arrived in Knoxville for his official visit Friday, hours after UT announced multiple self-imposed penalties to the men's basketball program after receiving a letter of inquiry from the NCAA. "I know what kind of person Coach Pearl is, and Tennessee is a family to me - it's not just basketball.''
Chris Jones said he has no doubts about his decision. Jones led Memphis Melrose High School to the state championship last season before transferring to Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy .
"I'm still with Tennessee, and it doesn't affect me in any way,'' Jones said. "My relationship with the coaching staff is strong.''
Pearl admitted during Friday's news conference that he provided misleading information to the NCAA in his initial interview on June 14 before going to his administration a few days later to request another meeting with collegiate sports' governing body.
Pearl and his assistant coaches were interviewed by the NCAA again on Aug. 5 about a violation involving excessive phone calls.
The misleading testimony and phone violations led to self-imposed penalties that include a $1.5 million reduction in salary for Pearl over the next five years and a one-year suspension from off-campus recruiting duties. UT's assistant coaches also were subjected to a 25 percent pay cut and off-campus recruiting suspensions ranging from three months to a year.
The NCAA Enforcement staff is expected to send a letter of allegations to UT by the end of December, and from there the case goes into the summary disposition process or before the infractions committee.
"I should have been completely honest, and had I done that the severity of these penalties would have been considerably less,'' Pearl said. "It's not so much what we did; the worst thing was how we handled it.
"I think our team will respond to this adversity . . . (but) it will present some challenges, there's no question.''
Many have wondered how it will affect prospects, specifically, 6-foot-6 Memphis Melrose star Adonis Thomas.
Thomas made his official visit to UT this weekend.
Jones said he spoke with his former Melrose teammate by phone Saturday.
"I don't know what Adonis will decide, but I don't think what happened will affect him,'' said Jones, a 5-11 guard. "I know he told me he's having a nice time on his visit.''
Ware said he's hoping to talk with Thomas about joining the signing class.
"I know Tennessee is the best fit for me, and hopefully it will be a good fit for him,'' said the 6-3 Ware. "As for what happened with Coach Pearl, I appreciate it that he came out and was honest about the whole thing. He did the right thing in my eyes, and I'm proud to be a Vol.''
Jones, who heard about the news conference from his coach, agreed.
"That's the kind of guy Coach Pearl is,'' Jones said. "You know he's going to do the right thing, and I think it's a good thing he came back and told the whole story.''