SEC commissioner Mike Slive says conference had no role in dismissal of Bruce Pearl

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive talks to media during the SEC Media Days on Wednesday, July 21, 2010, in Hoover, Ala.

Photo by AP Photo / Butch Dill

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive talks to media during the SEC Media Days on Wednesday, July 21, 2010, in Hoover, Ala.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- SEC commissioner Mike Slive admitted Monday that it was difficult to watch how the Bruce Pearl era ended at Tennessee.

Slive, speaking in an informal question-and-answer session with reporters at an Associated Press Sports Editors conference at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, said he had “two very different conversations” with the former UT men’s basketball coach before and after his March dismissal. Asked if he still had a good relationship with Pearl, Slive smiled.

“Mine is,” Slive said.

Slive said he nor any member representing the SEC tried to influence UT’s decision to ultimately fire Pearl.

“The employment relationship of a coach and athletic administrator is in the sole purview of the institution,” he said. “It is not something that a conference has any authority over or gets involved in.”

One month after UT received a Letter of Inquiry from the NCAA, Slive initiated largely unprecedented litigation when he suspended Pearl for the first eight games of the 2010-11 SEC season. In his letter to Pearl, Slive wrote that he could have very well suspended Pearl for the entire season, but felt the eight games were appropriate because Pearl admitted to misleading NCAA investigators, who were looking into violations pertaining to impermissible phone calls and a now-infamous barbecue at Pearl’s house.

At last year’s SEC spring meetings, Slive said the conference’s presidents and athletic directors agreed, “with no specific case in mind,” to “reinforce the authority of the commissioner's office to deal with issues with the ability to suspend.”

“When we looked at it, and once we knew what the established facts were and after we gave coach Pearl and his attorney the opportunity to comment and make sure that we had the facts correctly -- in other words, due process -- and once it was established that we all understood the facts, then with the authority that I had I made the determination, because it was a violation of conference policy, that I would suspend him for half a season,” Slive said.

“That's the genesis and that's how it developed. I had to make a decision and that was the decision that I made.”

Slive said he couldn’t comment on the UT athletic department’s case of 12 major violations in men’s basketball and football with the NCAA, which will go before the Committee on Infractions in June.

“The matter is still pending with the NCAA and the NCAA will hear the matter and make its own decision,” Slive said.

Asked if UT athletic director Mike Hamilton or school chancellor Jimmy Cheek were made aware of any new information before Pearl’s firing aside from a March secondary violation, which involved an unnamed player receiving more than his allotted number of free tickets for the regular season finale against Kentucky, Slive said “you’re going to have to ask them.”

“One of the things I try not to do is put myself in anybody else's head,” he said.

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 70

huntined#565710 writes:

Hit Pearl but turned his head with CAM and LSU...
Wish KIFF had stayed around and drove this little man crazy!!! Ole KIFF just laughed at him as he knew one day he will pee on his grave..

TheVolMan writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bingo. But, let's watch the Hamilton Haters roll in with their tired anger. They will be so disappointed if Martin turns out to be a great hire. But these are the same folks who thought Fulmer would get quickly be snapped up as a HC. Guess they were wrong on that call too.

huntined#565710 writes:

AUB

volsmith writes:

I believe Slive engineered Alabama and Florida both being unbeaten and playing for the conference title in 2009. Both teams should have had one loss. He'd never do that for Tennessee. He would for Florida and Alabama, though.

VolunteerLifer writes:

Why should a coach get more punishment than that the ncaa will mete out? Isn't the ncaa the governing body of collegiate sports? Isn't the ncaa the punishing body for those who break ncaa rules? Did Pearl break any specific SEC rules? Does the SEC have a rules book that says coaches can't make more than x phone calls? That coaches can't bring underclassmen recruits to their homes? that Coaches can't mislead the ncaa investigators in an investigation?

Why would the SEC mete out punishment for someone breaking some other organization's rules? Why would Slive find it necessary to punish Pearl when he knew that Pearl would sooner or later get his appropriate punishment from the ncaa?

The whole idea that the SEC should pile on in ncaa infractions cases is bizarre and the practice should be stopped. Let the ncaa do its job and butt out, Slive.

huntined#565710 writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Why should a coach get more punishment than that the ncaa will mete out? Isn't the ncaa the governing body of collegiate sports? Isn't the ncaa the punishing body for those who break ncaa rules? Did Pearl break any specific SEC rules? Does the SEC have a rules book that says coaches can't make more than x phone calls? That coaches can't bring underclassmen recruits to their homes? that Coaches can't mislead the ncaa investigators in an investigation?

Why would the SEC mete out punishment for someone breaking some other organization's rules? Why would Slive find it necessary to punish Pearl when he knew that Pearl would sooner or later get his appropriate punishment from the ncaa?

The whole idea that the SEC should pile on in ncaa infractions cases is bizarre and the practice should be stopped. Let the ncaa do its job and butt out, Slive.

True Lifer but it was about the time he was being hit with the CAM situation so he had to do something..He also had it in for TENN. because of KIFF not paying any attention to him at all. KIFF was just not going to let the little midget push him around and Slive didn't like that at all.

NashvillePreds writes:

Slive is a alabubba homer. He is no friend to the University of Tennessee. I believe he could be categorized as a foe, as it relates to our desire to win SEC Championships.
We are in a terrible position, with Slimeball at the helm. If UT will not get a fair deal, as it relates to officiating, rules enforcement, etcetera, I do not see why our desire to remain in the conference, should remain steadfast.

Go Preds. 2-1

hallsguy writes:

in response to TheVolMan:

Bingo. But, let's watch the Hamilton Haters roll in with their tired anger. They will be so disappointed if Martin turns out to be a great hire. But these are the same folks who thought Fulmer would get quickly be snapped up as a HC. Guess they were wrong on that call too.

Vman,Mike Slive has essentially done a good job with and for the SEC.
I hope Martin does turn out to be a great hire.He's doing all the right things and seems to have the discipline and will that it takes to coach today's generation of "look at me's".
That aside, I would say most posters on this forum would agree that Phil Fulmer wasn't going anywhere as far as coaching D1 football. He has been a great coach for UT and/is a class act.His time had run out and he was not keeping up with the times and it really was time for him to go.
Hamilton does need to go. Fundraising for UT is relatively easy.He really cannot take much credit there when you got Big Jim to make the calls for you-who's going to say no to Big Jim?
As far as managing his coaches and the program? Hammy doesn't have a clue. He is supposed to be the boss and make sure the coaches toe the line.It's also called "institutional control". Lack of IC will get you in trouble with the NCAA every time.
My guess is that Fulmer felt like he had Hammy by the **** and Hammy had to show otherwise. Hammy's big mistake was upping Fulmer's contract. Any idiot could tell you nobody was going to hire the guy.It's not like we were going to lose him. His second big mistake was hiring Kiffin and by default Orgeron.Those two are why Southern Cal had the book thrown at them.They thumbed their noses at Hammy.
Don't get me started on Todd Raleigh.

C74Law77 writes:

in response to volsmith:

I believe Slive engineered Alabama and Florida both being unbeaten and playing for the conference title in 2009. Both teams should have had one loss. He'd never do that for Tennessee. He would for Florida and Alabama, though.

And people on this site oject to being called loons! This is beyond lunacy and ranks right up there with:

We never landed on the moon.

President Obama wasn't born in the USA.

ESPN stole the Heisman from Peyton Manning.

We are both Vols...but lay off the Orange Sunshine.

Beam me up Scotty.

Go Vols...I'll just hangup and listen.

TommyJack writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

TJ is all for CCM. But I reserve the right to dislike Slive.

GreenHillsBoy writes:

I don't have any problem with the SEC providing punishment for violation of rules, but I have a HUGE problem when the inconsistency of the office is so blatant. The fact that within 12 hours, they had found insufficient evidence to suspend Cam Newton, but take months and months to resolve A. J. Green's jersey issue at Georgia and on and on, let alone the Pearl issue. Pearl got what he deserved, but the inconsistency with the NCAA and the SEC is enough to begin to lose many fans. There basically is no fairness or consistency...see Tressel, Calhoun, Calipari and on and on.

rocky_topper writes:

Mike Slive is a crooked, lying piece of phooey!

vol75 writes:

in response to volsmith:

I believe Slive engineered Alabama and Florida both being unbeaten and playing for the conference title in 2009. Both teams should have had one loss. He'd never do that for Tennessee. He would for Florida and Alabama, though.

Refresh my memory. Did he play qb or running back?

VolMoment writes:

Institutional control by the AD for the coaches is like a judge telling a father, you are suppose to have control over your son. So you can't be a father anymore because your son got drunk on spring break.
Hamilton is doing as good as any AD could do when they hire a coach who turns out like kiffin. And then as much as I like Pearl,when he lied I told my wife I can't support him anymore I don't care how many games he wins, because I have preached to my children and now grandchildren, " don't ever lie to me." That is what is wrong with our soceity and for some jerks it all about winning. Remember UT is bigger than one person and Pearl forgot that. We need to get behind the adminstration and say thanks for getting rid of a sore eye for our belove UT.

C74Law77 writes:

in response to GreenHillsBoy:

I don't have any problem with the SEC providing punishment for violation of rules, but I have a HUGE problem when the inconsistency of the office is so blatant. The fact that within 12 hours, they had found insufficient evidence to suspend Cam Newton, but take months and months to resolve A. J. Green's jersey issue at Georgia and on and on, let alone the Pearl issue. Pearl got what he deserved, but the inconsistency with the NCAA and the SEC is enough to begin to lose many fans. There basically is no fairness or consistency...see Tressel, Calhoun, Calipari and on and on.

There's no inconsistency with the NCAA.

The difference is their Universities stood up to the NCAA. A few of us, like John "Thunder", who routinely gets bashed here, wanted to fight. Unlike, the "cut and run" quislings who post here and now spout their "win with integrity" blather, while a great man, Bruce Pearl and his coaching corpse is still warm.

Go Vols...I'll just hangup and listen.

calvolfromkingsport writes:

To quote Dr Evil, "Righttt..."

Huttdawg100 writes:

I'm generally not one that believes in conspiracy theories, but I do believe Slive played a big role in Pearl being fired. I've heard that he met with Hamilton at the SEC Basketball Tournament, and Slive described two scenarios that would play out after the June NCAA hearing: one with Pearl remaining as our Head Basketball coach, and one with Pearl fired. With Slive's insight into the NCAA Infractions Committee, Hamilton and Cheek made their decision.

jenna1009001 writes:

He may not have had a roll in the firing of Pearl, he did have a roll in how the situation was handled. My basically disagreement with the pearl firing is not the firing itself, but the fact that he had already received punishment from the school and league. If this was the goal of Hamilton and or silve was to get pearl fired they should have done that up front not a little at a time. And yes I am in the camp of fire Hamilton because he allowed the envoriment in football with kiffen and in basketball with pearl to be such that violations occured. He is charged with overseeing the program and he has failed at least three times in Three different sports to do so.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to huntined#565710:

True Lifer but it was about the time he was being hit with the CAM situation so he had to do something..He also had it in for TENN. because of KIFF not paying any attention to him at all. KIFF was just not going to let the little midget push him around and Slive didn't like that at all.

I think Slive does have a burr in his saddle when it comes to UT. Maybe he's mad at Hamilton for hiring Kiffin. But it isn't true that Slive didn't have anything to do with getting Pearl fired. The eight game suspension he handed Pearl was the subject of endless chatter by the national press and broadcasters doing the UT games, and served to undermine the UT administration's stated support of Pearl. That avalanche of additional negative pub weakened Pearl considerably and made it more likely he couldn't hang on.

thevoice writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Why should a coach get more punishment than that the ncaa will mete out? Isn't the ncaa the governing body of collegiate sports? Isn't the ncaa the punishing body for those who break ncaa rules? Did Pearl break any specific SEC rules? Does the SEC have a rules book that says coaches can't make more than x phone calls? That coaches can't bring underclassmen recruits to their homes? that Coaches can't mislead the ncaa investigators in an investigation?

Why would the SEC mete out punishment for someone breaking some other organization's rules? Why would Slive find it necessary to punish Pearl when he knew that Pearl would sooner or later get his appropriate punishment from the ncaa?

The whole idea that the SEC should pile on in ncaa infractions cases is bizarre and the practice should be stopped. Let the ncaa do its job and butt out, Slive.

The SEC adopts the NCAA's rules and can make certain rules more stringent, but has to adopt the NCAA's rules as a minimum. Therefore, the SEC is the first governing body the schools to which the schools have to report. The SEC has the authority to first punish the school before the NCAA issues punishment. If the SEC didn't issue enforcement action the way they did, they may actually have the NCAA on THEIR back for going too light. The NCAA still has the option to apply more enforcement action, and probably will in some form.

Razor784 writes:

For the life of me I can't see how Hamilton still has the AD job. Just look at the big 3 in mens sports when he took over and where they are today. Football and baseball are woefully down from where they were when Hamilton took over. Basketball has increased, but it's getting ready to take a step back. The PR nightmares this guy has brought to the university should be enough to get him fired, but when you factor in the on field performance of the teams then it's easy to see he must go.

oldvolsfan writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

that would be good as much as he dislikes ut

volspaws writes:

Mike Slive lacks the qualities required for the job he holds....His public feud with Lane Kiffin was petty, childish, and beneath the office of conference commissioner..living in Alabama, he has obviously drank the Kool Aid poured by Alabama rednecks that whined for years about Roy Kramer showing favoritism to Tennessee...Mr. Slive, since you're not from this part of the country, allow me to explain to you why others in this conference are suspicious of Alabama and Auburn: both schools have a long and documented history of cheating with multiple punishments from the NCAA... Your handling of the Pearl situation was nothing more than grandstanding by a pompous windbag (you) who obviously likes reading his name in the paper and hearing it on Sportscenter.

TNVol71 writes:

If Slive was so sure about what the punishments would be from the NCAA and used the suspension of Pearl to help alleviate some of the penalties to UT, I am all with him. However, if the NCAA doesn't come down really hard on Tressel, who lied just like Bruce about events at The Ohio State University, then Slive stepped way past the boundary. If all that Tressel gets is being suspended for only a couple of conference games rather than half of their conference games this year, Slive's action is unconscionable. GBO!! Let's start winning some games!!

ncvol17 writes:

IMO 'It's just time for a change' when the general fan base loses respect for the AD. Worked to get rid of CPF by Hammy. Live by the sword - die by the sword..

dvols writes:

but slive did suspend him 8 games

slive also says..."roll d... tide"

Volific writes:

in response to vol75:

Refresh my memory. Did he play qb or running back?

Neither, the refs are paid

crmcm44#321757 writes:

Bruce Peral did lie but my guess is he's not the only liar involved with the SEC.

brauhuff#295403 (Inactive) writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

Slive is a alabubba homer. He is no friend to the University of Tennessee. I believe he could be categorized as a foe, as it relates to our desire to win SEC Championships.
We are in a terrible position, with Slimeball at the helm. If UT will not get a fair deal, as it relates to officiating, rules enforcement, etcetera, I do not see why our desire to remain in the conference, should remain steadfast.

Go Preds. 2-1

I have said for 2 years let"s move to the Big East so we can dominate in football and go to a BCS game regularly

abnermc writes:

in response to C74Law77:

And people on this site oject to being called loons! This is beyond lunacy and ranks right up there with:

We never landed on the moon.

President Obama wasn't born in the USA.

ESPN stole the Heisman from Peyton Manning.

We are both Vols...but lay off the Orange Sunshine.

Beam me up Scotty.

Go Vols...I'll just hangup and listen.

You got 1 out of 3 right. And you don't have to hang up & listen , just hang up ..& leave

kazoo writes:

I do not like Slive and his moral high-horse act. His job is to promote the SEC and give coaches and programs the benefit of the doubt. If there are rules issues or violations that are a problem for a school, he should get involved quietly. Instead, this tool acts spends too much time waging his finger at everyone.

VOLliven2it writes:

Just Not Interested in anything Slive ever says again after the Cam Newton thing, not guilty even with an SEC rule which states families are not to be involved in soliciting money. That does not stipulate "Cam didn't know..." From an integrity standpoint, Slive is pathetic so why should we ever believe anything he says about anything that includes Bruce Pearl being let go? Now can we get on with life at UT? Can we live on in the misery that accompanies continued life with Mike Hamilton as AD including the hammer we will soon feel for our basketball program?

clvolfan writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Who can we believe these days?

RashaadSalabeb writes:

in response to hallsguy:

Vman,Mike Slive has essentially done a good job with and for the SEC.
I hope Martin does turn out to be a great hire.He's doing all the right things and seems to have the discipline and will that it takes to coach today's generation of "look at me's".
That aside, I would say most posters on this forum would agree that Phil Fulmer wasn't going anywhere as far as coaching D1 football. He has been a great coach for UT and/is a class act.His time had run out and he was not keeping up with the times and it really was time for him to go.
Hamilton does need to go. Fundraising for UT is relatively easy.He really cannot take much credit there when you got Big Jim to make the calls for you-who's going to say no to Big Jim?
As far as managing his coaches and the program? Hammy doesn't have a clue. He is supposed to be the boss and make sure the coaches toe the line.It's also called "institutional control". Lack of IC will get you in trouble with the NCAA every time.
My guess is that Fulmer felt like he had Hammy by the **** and Hammy had to show otherwise. Hammy's big mistake was upping Fulmer's contract. Any idiot could tell you nobody was going to hire the guy.It's not like we were going to lose him. His second big mistake was hiring Kiffin and by default Orgeron.Those two are why Southern Cal had the book thrown at them.They thumbed their noses at Hammy.
Don't get me started on Todd Raleigh.

I totally agree!

Go Vols!

murrayvol writes:

in response to clvolfan:

Who can we believe these days?

Should you cross paths with that rare individual, get back to us.

volsmith writes:

in response to vol75:

Refresh my memory. Did he play qb or running back?

Commissioner. It's easier to do it that way.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to thevoice:

The SEC adopts the NCAA's rules and can make certain rules more stringent, but has to adopt the NCAA's rules as a minimum. Therefore, the SEC is the first governing body the schools to which the schools have to report. The SEC has the authority to first punish the school before the NCAA issues punishment. If the SEC didn't issue enforcement action the way they did, they may actually have the NCAA on THEIR back for going too light. The NCAA still has the option to apply more enforcement action, and probably will in some form.

Assuming all of that is true, does it make sense that two different organizations are tripping over each other to enforce the same rules and mete out punishment for the same offenses? If its expected by the ncaa that the SEC impose punishment prior to ncaa punishment, then does the ncaa have to take the SEC's punishment into account when they weigh in? I've never heard that they do. It sounds like a stupid enforcement/punishment system to me.

volsmith writes:

in response to C74Law77:

And people on this site oject to being called loons! This is beyond lunacy and ranks right up there with:

We never landed on the moon.

President Obama wasn't born in the USA.

ESPN stole the Heisman from Peyton Manning.

We are both Vols...but lay off the Orange Sunshine.

Beam me up Scotty.

Go Vols...I'll just hangup and listen.

Your post makes no sense! I would think you and most other Vol fans think Obama wasn't born in the USA and that science is fiction.

UofTNVol writes:

Slive needs to focus on improving the quality of SEC refs. They have got to be the worst in the country.

volsfannsc writes:

in response to UofTNVol:

Slive needs to focus on improving the quality of SEC refs. They have got to be the worst in the country.

Slive has the ref's he wants to ensure the quality of the SEC championship game. Last season I didn't see Auburn, ALA, nor LSU get any bad calls that would influence their wins. It's obvious that Slive suffers from 'Little-man-itis" and played an instrumental role in Pearl's dismissal. For three weeks all I heard from sportscasters nationwide was how the SEC stepped in and punished. It was unprecedented. I find it amazing that Slive swept the whole Camgate thing under the rug- AND GOT AWAY WITH IT! Tressel will still coach with no recourse from their conference comissioner, Auburn will dismiss any play for pay with the SEC's blessing, and Saban's oversigning will be praised by Slive as genius. It's time for someone to influence Slive's dismissal.

govols1234567 writes:

Kevin Ware just signed with Central Florida according to multiple sources. A little off topic but basketball related and GoVolsXtra doesnt have anything on it yet
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports...

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to VolunteerLifer:

Why should a coach get more punishment than that the ncaa will mete out? Isn't the ncaa the governing body of collegiate sports? Isn't the ncaa the punishing body for those who break ncaa rules? Did Pearl break any specific SEC rules? Does the SEC have a rules book that says coaches can't make more than x phone calls? That coaches can't bring underclassmen recruits to their homes? that Coaches can't mislead the ncaa investigators in an investigation?

Why would the SEC mete out punishment for someone breaking some other organization's rules? Why would Slive find it necessary to punish Pearl when he knew that Pearl would sooner or later get his appropriate punishment from the ncaa?

The whole idea that the SEC should pile on in ncaa infractions cases is bizarre and the practice should be stopped. Let the ncaa do its job and butt out, Slive.

Agree completely. Would someone please identify any case where the conference has penalized a coach or institution for rules infractions? I can't remember a single case for Slive or the SEC.

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You can call me anything you want, but I'm sure the vast majority of people on this board will determine that you are the idiot. Slive is the worse commissioner, by far, of any major conference. Under his watch the Football Officiating has become the worse in college football. Its so bad that during Bowl season teams representing other conferences are requesting that SEC officials not be utilized. Instead of issuing a penalty, for the first time ever, to Bruce Pearl maybe he should be addressing the officiating problem which has lead to Officials determining the winner of games instead of the players on the field.

Classof72 writes:

“The employment relationship of a coach and athletic administrator is in the sole purview of the institution,” he said. “It is not something that a conference has any authority over or gets involved in.”

If this is what Slive not being involved is like, it's difficult to imagine what his active involvement would look like. May Providence spare us from this person's further assistance.

acworthdave writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

I'm generally not one that believes in conspiracy theories, but I do believe Slive played a big role in Pearl being fired. I've heard that he met with Hamilton at the SEC Basketball Tournament, and Slive described two scenarios that would play out after the June NCAA hearing: one with Pearl remaining as our Head Basketball coach, and one with Pearl fired. With Slive's insight into the NCAA Infractions Committee, Hamilton and Cheek made their decision.

I heard the same thing about this meeting at the SEC tournament. I also heard his feelings toward Pearl stems from his involvement as a lawyer for Illinois during the taping scandal when Pearl was at Iowa. I haven't done any real research on this to see if Slive was involved. However, if it is true, it adds fuel to the fire that Slive was out to get Pearl by suspending him.

I, for one, will be paying close attention to actions by Slive in the future with regards to handing down coaching suspensions. Something tells me this will be the only suspension we will ever see from Mr. Slive, regardless of the infraction.

tater42 writes:

Cry crocodile tears for me, Slive (or are they aliGATOR tears). You had a LOT to do with the Pearl firing. Thanks for the suspension.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Media junk.lol

tenuhc writes:

Slive us a joke just like Hamilton. NCAA is investigating Kentucky so look out Cleveland State.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to tenuhc:

Slive us a joke just like Hamilton. NCAA is investigating Kentucky so look out Cleveland State.

Huh?

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to acworthdave:

I heard the same thing about this meeting at the SEC tournament. I also heard his feelings toward Pearl stems from his involvement as a lawyer for Illinois during the taping scandal when Pearl was at Iowa. I haven't done any real research on this to see if Slive was involved. However, if it is true, it adds fuel to the fire that Slive was out to get Pearl by suspending him.

I, for one, will be paying close attention to actions by Slive in the future with regards to handing down coaching suspensions. Something tells me this will be the only suspension we will ever see from Mr. Slive, regardless of the infraction.

Slive was a lawyer hired by the University of Illinois to research Pearl's accusation that Jimmy Collins paid Deon Thomas during his recruitment:

http://www.deadspin.com/5784437/bruce...

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