NCAA won't hit UT again

Bruce Pearl, 3 former assistants not so lucky

Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl leaves a hearing by the NCAA's infractions committee in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Photo by AJ Mast/Associated Press

Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl leaves a hearing by the NCAA's infractions committee in Indianapolis, Saturday, June 11, 2011.

More than two years since the NCAA began investigating its athletic program and nearly one year since the inquiry became public, the University of Tennessee received the closest thing to a happy ending Tuesday.

Its former men's basketball coaches, specifically Bruce Pearl, did not.

Other than what it has already self-imposed, the UT's men's basketball and football programs, which were initially accused of committing a combined 12 major violations, will not be hit with any further sanctions from the NCAA, multiple sources told the News Sentinel.

The multiple sources requested anonymity because the NCAA is set to announce the findings from June's Committee on Infractions hearing today.

Pearl will receive a three-year show-cause penalty while his three former assistants — Tony Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes — all will receive a one-year show-cause penalty.

The two major violations levied against the football program were found to be secondary violations. Outside of the penalties UT self-sanctioned before June's hearing, no further punishment was levied against the UT program, former coach Lane Kiffin or former assistant David Reaves.

An NCAA spokesman didn't respond to phone calls Tuesday. UT spokeswoman Margie Nichols said she could not comment.

A "show-cause" penalty effectively prevents a coach from acquiring a job at an NCAA institution through the duration of its assigned length. If a school wants to hire a coach who is in the midst of serving a show-cause penalty, it must go before the Committee on Infractions to explain why it wants to do so. If approved, the school could potentially risk being hit with additional penalties from the committee.

Pearl said Tuesday that he had not been told the length of his penalty, only that he would learn his fate today. Jones, now the boys' basketball coach at Alcoa High School, heard the same from his attorney.

"I don't know what the penalties will be," Jones said, "but if it's true that we will receive a show-cause penalty for not being forthcoming, that's disappointing in light of the instructions we were given by the UT legal counsel."

Forbes is now the coach at Northwest Florida State College, a junior college, and Shay is one of his assistants.

Pearl said he's still mulling over a head-coaching offer from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League that's reportedly worth $500,000 a year.

"I am still in the decision-making process on that," Pearl said.

The "bump" violation committed by Pearl and Jones days after it was learned UT had received its Notice of Inquiry from the NCAA was not considered a major violation, according to sources.

Pearl and his assistants, though, are just the latest coaches accused of violating the NCAA's "principles of honesty" to receive show-cause penalties.

All four coaches were accused of providing misleading information and failing to protect the integrity of the investigation during their initial interviews with NCAA investigators regarding a photograph of Pearl and then-high school junior Aaron Craft taken inside Pearl's home.

All four coaches initially denied knowing the setting of the photograph. Immediately afterward, Pearl was overwhelmed with regret and requested a follow-up interview, where he admitted to "panicking" about the photograph and confessed to impermissibly hosting unofficial visitors at his home.

Kiffin, along with the various recruiting violations that were lumped into one all-encompassing major violation, had faced a charge of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failing to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several of his assistant coaches.

Before the June hearing, UT self-imposed two years of probation for the entire athletic department, along with various recruiting restrictions in both the men's basketball and football programs.

Also taken into consideration were the hefty salary reductions UT self-imposed on Pearl and his assistants last September, Pearl's eight-game suspension from SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and, ultimately, the decision to fire Pearl and his assistants after the 2010-11 season.

The fallout from the investigation, both from a financial and reputation standpoint, has hit the athletic department hard.

Pearl and former athletic director Mike Hamilton, who resigned in June, will eventually collect more than $2 million in buyout money from UT. Legal fees paid to the firm Bond, Schoeneck and King were at $317,178.06 as of last week.

The search to replace Hamilton remains ongoing, and the university has already paid at least $90,000 to Parker Executive Search to aid with the process.

Recently, new head football coach Derek Dooley said he and his assistants' recruiting efforts were hindered by the looming investigation.

The men's basketball program also faces significant hurdles under new coach Cuonzo Martin, but its future now appears rosier in the wake of Tuesday's rulings, as it escaped scholarship losses, further recruiting restrictions and a postseason ban.

"As long as there's no postseason ban, we'll be OK," Martin said at a May Big Orange Tipoff Club luncheon. "We can weather the storm.''

Mike Griffith contributed to this report. Follow Andrew Gribble at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 25

jmart412 writes:

Now let's all move on!

Colliervol writes:

Haden should fire Kiffin right now while he has the chance. He'll be sorry in 2 to 3 years if he doesn't.

As far as UT goes, I'm thankful it wasn't more and now we can head down the road. Shame about Bruce but he has nobody to blame but himself. I enjoyed the good years he brought us and thank him for those. But as jmart just said: Time to move on.

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

Recruiting should jump....Go Vols!!!

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

if this article is saying what I think its saying, then this is much bigger news than they are making sound like.

flatrock writes:

Some users consider this comment inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

Maybe Pearl's family ought to consider sending him to Mayo Clinic for evaluation...

DannyVol writes:

in response to flatrock:

This comment may be inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

Maybe Pearl's family ought to consider sending him to Mayo Clinic for evaluation...

Maybe you should get a clue and quit being tasteless and entirely humorless, you miserable loser.

VolAlum03ISBACK (Inactive) writes:

"I don't know what the penalties will be," "Jones said, 'but if it's true that we will receive a show-cause penalty for not being forthcoming, that's disappointing in light of the instructions we were given by the UT legal counsel.'"

That's interesting. I know that legal counsel withheld their knowledge that the NCAA had a photo of Pearl and a recruit until right before the hearing...but that sounds like UT Legal advised Jones on how to respond or react to the NCAA's investigation. I want him to explain that statement.

RaineyVol writes:

in response to bspurlingcac#225603:

Recruiting should jump....Go Vols!!!

already has my friend.. Dooley is doing a good job right now

648rwhp writes:

Thank you to the (deliberately lower case) Ohio State and the u (again, deliberately lower case).

AllforTenn writes:

in response to flatrock:

This comment may be inappropriate. Reveal this comment.

Maybe Pearl's family ought to consider sending him to Mayo Clinic for evaluation...

What an uncalled for, tasteless comment.

richvol writes:

The legal advice UT received was worthless and damaging yet it's costing almost 400,000? Pathetic.

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to RockyToptoNeyland:

if this article is saying what I think its saying, then this is much bigger news than they are making sound like.

This is just the "anticipated-news" article, which follows at least thirty "speculated-news" articles. The "actual news" article will follow the NCAA's official statement tomorrow.

Wednesday's actual news article might contain exactly the same information. It'll just be in quotes. With a larger, breathier headline.

Three observations about the news industry today:
1) It's only news until it actually happens.
2) 24-hour news networks are really 23-hour conjecture networks.
3) The exception is live video. If there's a cat stuck in a tree, and there's a live video feed--it's breaking news.

You can bet right now there are media lawyers working out the details on a phone app that allows anyone to uplink live video.

Off topic, but just saying...

tntron writes:

What happens to the asst. coach that took the head coaching job in FL.?

CoverOrange writes:

in response to VolAlum03ISBACK:

"I don't know what the penalties will be," "Jones said, 'but if it's true that we will receive a show-cause penalty for not being forthcoming, that's disappointing in light of the instructions we were given by the UT legal counsel.'"

That's interesting. I know that legal counsel withheld their knowledge that the NCAA had a photo of Pearl and a recruit until right before the hearing...but that sounds like UT Legal advised Jones on how to respond or react to the NCAA's investigation. I want him to explain that statement.

In an article a few weeks ago, Jones said the lawyer, Glazier, told him to offer no more information than the questions asked. Standard counsel advice. But the NCAA is not a court and expects honesty and forthcomingness.

alfrizzle097 writes:

I am surprised and excited (as a fan) if this turns out to be accurate.

I am disappointed from a big picture perspective though. The NCAA needs to start punishing both the schools and the coaches that were in place at the time violations occured. As long as the schools aren't being held accountable, coaches will still be pressured to win at all costs and then the schools will deny knowledge.

Everyone involved needs to be punished so that honesty and moral fortitude become valuable assets in a coach again. These institutions are supposed to stand for enlightenment and higher virtue. Oh well....

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

Now things can start to get back to normal. This is really bad news for the rest of the SEC, as they just lost a huge recruiting weapon against UT.

Madkels writes:

Now that we know the "bump" was not a major violation, who amongst us think firing Pearl was a mistake? I would have circled the wagons and fought the NCAA. Worst case would have been some short term penalties but we would have kept the best coach our program has seen. Not to mention, Pearl ate, drank, and slept UT. Now we have an unproven coach and we have no idea what the future holds or how many coaches we will go through before we once again compete for an SEC title.

Prostar writes:

in response to tntron:

What happens to the asst. coach that took the head coaching job in FL.?

In a word, Nothing. It is a Jr. College and not covered under the NCAA. Coach Jones is at a high school, so the 3 asst. coaches have jobs and in a year will be out from under the "show cause". In light of the other investigations going on at UNC, Oregon, OSU and now Miami, I think our punishment is about right. I think OSU and Miami are going to get hammered. Poor Al Golden at Miami has 15 players he's not sure are going to be eligible.

GreerVol22 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

mantravel,
I have been in business for over 25 years. One thing I learned early on is the guys at the top of ANY organization have a different set of rules than everyone else. A golden parachute in every contract is standard and part of the business. It would be nice to have this page in history stricken from the record. Better days are ahead. Baseball is looking up, football will come around now that the cloud is lifting, basketball will probably drop off a bit before it rebounds, so hang in there. btw, half my family went to ETSU, Go Bucs!

PHAT_VOL writes:

in response to Madkels:

Now that we know the "bump" was not a major violation, who amongst us think firing Pearl was a mistake? I would have circled the wagons and fought the NCAA. Worst case would have been some short term penalties but we would have kept the best coach our program has seen. Not to mention, Pearl ate, drank, and slept UT. Now we have an unproven coach and we have no idea what the future holds or how many coaches we will go through before we once again compete for an SEC title.

The fear of change raises its ugly head. Coach Martin will SOON surprise you.

kiddtigger#228291 writes:

If Pearl and Kiffen were still at UT, perhaps penalties would have been harsher. Thank goodness our new coaches won't be dealing with too much fallout from the previous regimes mess.

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to alfrizzle097:

I am surprised and excited (as a fan) if this turns out to be accurate.

I am disappointed from a big picture perspective though. The NCAA needs to start punishing both the schools and the coaches that were in place at the time violations occured. As long as the schools aren't being held accountable, coaches will still be pressured to win at all costs and then the schools will deny knowledge.

Everyone involved needs to be punished so that honesty and moral fortitude become valuable assets in a coach again. These institutions are supposed to stand for enlightenment and higher virtue. Oh well....

Not to draw too fine a point on this, but can you actually punish an institution?

A school consists of legal documents, brick & mortar, and people. Any attempt to punish an institution inevitably falls on hundreds of good people who are personally guiltless.

It's like trying to tax corporations. If you want to increase the tax rates on shareholders' or executives' earnings, then say so. But when you levy a tax on the whole company, that takes money out of profits, which limits workers' wages, lowers stock values (and workers' pensions), which necessitates higher pricing, thus lowering sales and endangering more jobs.

It may feel good to say we're taxing the rich (or punishing schools), but both policies ultimately hurt innocent little guys more.

We have rules for coaches, rules for athletic directors, rules for academicians, and rules for supporters. Let's focus punishment on guilty individuals and individuals who knowingly enabled or allowed those violations to occur.

Any derived benefit to the University from violating the rules was erased by self-imposed penalties. To the extent the institution exists as a separate entity, damage was appropriately limited to its athletic department. Neither the school's academic standing nor its physical infrastructure suffered from this punishment of the guilty individuals.

As for the assistant BB coaches' legal adviser, well... the marketplace will punish or reward him appropriately.

VolAlum03ISBACK (Inactive) writes:

in response to PHAT_VOL:

The fear of change raises its ugly head. Coach Martin will SOON surprise you.

Yep...Hamilton's record of coaches is fantastic! I will totally trust his decision when it comes to UT sports hires.

volunteer_cowboy writes:

tennessee didn't save thier selves. Ohio St. and Miami did,so everybody should thank them

schymtz writes:

in response to Madkels:

Now that we know the "bump" was not a major violation, who amongst us think firing Pearl was a mistake? I would have circled the wagons and fought the NCAA. Worst case would have been some short term penalties but we would have kept the best coach our program has seen. Not to mention, Pearl ate, drank, and slept UT. Now we have an unproven coach and we have no idea what the future holds or how many coaches we will go through before we once again compete for an SEC title.

"Who amongst us think firing Pearl was a mistake?" I do, but it apparently "worked" for UT. Unless money changed hands, a clear competitive advantage was gained (or at least attempted,) or some tinkering with game outcomes like shaving points was shown, this never rose to a level of "Major Infractions." I don't know that there was a "vendetta" following Pearl, but the kind of negative posts on this site and the whole play that the "Bump" that wasn't a bump received, (et. cet., ad. naus.) suggest there is an untold story.
I don't give Pearl a pass on poor judgement and self-defeating behavior that other's used against him, but the University and the NCAA sure threw him to the wolves after the University has indicated it would support him. That less-than-honest switch for favor is - at best - silly. At worst, it is calculating and spineless.
I wish the new coach well. I won't be watching with much enthusiasm or expectation. Truth is, I think the lessons taught by this are clear:
1. "If you have made a mistake. for the appearence of goodness sake, cover it up and lie about it. NEVER confess your sins to the NCAA. (Witness Kiffin.)
2. If the NCAA doesn't approve of the University's loyalty to a coach who was loyal, throw him to the wolves. They get to feel righteous and congratulate themselves on their "due diligence."

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