Mike Hamilton apologizes to Bruce Pearl

UT Basketball Head Coach Bruce Pearl, center, and UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton, right, address the media on Friday, Nov. 19 during a press conference where Pearl's eight SEC game suspension was announced at Thompson-Boling Arena. Hamilton said he doesn’t know at this time if Bruce Pearl will be the men’s basketball coach next season during a radio interview on Wednesday, March 16, 2011.

Photo by Lauren Spuhler

UT Basketball Head Coach Bruce Pearl, center, and UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton, right, address the media on Friday, Nov. 19 during a press conference where Pearl's eight SEC game suspension was announced at Thompson-Boling Arena. Hamilton said he doesn’t know at this time if Bruce Pearl will be the men’s basketball coach next season during a radio interview on Wednesday, March 16, 2011.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton apologized to Vols men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl for untimely remarks he made about the uncertainty of Pearl's future with the program.

Two sources, who asked to remain anonymous because of UT's ongoing evaluation of Pearl, said the first contact from Hamilton to Pearl took place via phone before the team arrived in Charlotte for its opening game in the NCAA tournament on Friday.

Two other sources said that Hamilton apologized later Wednesday at a UT staff dinner in Charlotte. The sources asked not to be identified because of the ongoing evaluation of the basketball staff.

Tennessee is tentatively scheduled to go before the NCAA Committee on Infractions on June 10-11, and the basketball program faces an alleged 10 violations, including an unethical conduct charge levied against Pearl.

Hamilton revealed in an interview taped on Tuesday and aired Wednesday on Knoxville radio station WNML that he was unsure if Pearl would be retained as UT's head coach, and that Pearl would be evaluated after the season.

It was an abrupt departure from the previous stance Hamilton and UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek had taken on Pearl's future, as both had indicated Pearl would be retained as head coach so long as the NCAA investigation revealed no new major violations.

Pearl would only say in Thursday's NCAA tournament press conference at Time Warner Cable Arena that “I think Mike would have preferred for it to not come out like this.''

Ninth-seeded Tennessee (19-14) plays No. 8-seed Michigan (20-13) at 12:40 p.m. on Friday in a second-round NCAA tournament game (TV: truTV).

The majority of questions Pearl and his players fielded on Thursday involved Hamilton's radio comments and Pearl's future as head coach.

“We are trying to focus on student athletes,'' Pearl said. “I need to insulate them from what we can't control and move forward.''

UT senior center Brian Williams said the players are trying to keep their focus on the upcoming game.

“Obviously, all of us watch SportsCenter, ESPN,'' Williams said. “We focus on the task at hand. That's winning the basketball game and nothing else.''

Williams said the NCAA investigation and ongoing case – which became public at a Sept. 10, 2010 press conference announcing that UT had received a letter of inquiry – has not been something Pearl has discussed much with the team.

“I think the whole season he might have addressed us twice about the situation going on with him,'' Williams said. “Coach did, I think, a terrific job of keeping that away from us.''

Vols junior Cameron Tatum remains optimistic Pearl will return to coach him in his senior year.

“I fully anticipate Coach Pearl to be back next year,'' Tatum said. “As all my teammates said earlier, we can only worry about and control what we do in between those lines and focus on the preparation for the games.''

Pearl said he had only himself to blame for the current circumstance.

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“I was the one that broke these rules, not Mike Hamilton, not our chancellor and not these student athletes,'' Pearl said. “So I put myself in this position.

“When you put yourself in the position where you provide false and misleading information to the NCAA and you go through an NCAA investigation, you put yourself in a position where you're going to be evaluated at the end of the year,'' Pearl said. “And so that's what our status is. The announcement yesterday publicly came as a bit of a surprise, but if that's where we are, then that's where we're at...''

Pearl, who has been working under a letter of appointment since being informed his contract was being terminated on Sept. 9, 2010, was asked if he knew why Hamilton said UT felt it could not continue negotiations to sign Pearl to a new contract.

“That's something you would have to talk to Mike about,'' Pearl said.

Hamilton has not returned numerous phone calls from the News Sentinel and has not spoken publicly since taping the aforementioned radio interview.

Mike Strange contributed to this report.

Mike Griffith will be live blogging the Tennessee-Michigan game beginning at 12:30 p.m., Friday, at http://blogs.knoxnews.com/askgriff

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Comments » 292

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

Keep Bruce...fire Hamilton!

TennVol01 writes:

Hamilton is such a jerk. UT can easily find a better Athletic Director.

The_Mayor writes:

Ringling Brothers, Hamilton and Pearl Circus. WE ARE UT...ugh

crmcm44#321757 writes:

Hamilton didn't show good judgment. UT may need to change both positions. If Pearl is out the basketball program will be hurt badly and unfortunately if he stays it is hurt also.

volgrog#210164 writes:

Amen, Layla_K. Keep Pearl, get rid of Hamilton! We have messes in basketball and football because of this clown. His remarks right before the NCAA's start are way out-of-bounds. Whatever happens to Pearl, Hamilton has to be fired.

digthevols writes:

"untimely???" Then, Mike Hamilton should have declined the interview! It's not rocket science. Of course, one doesn't have to be a scientist to know that's UT's position anyway. It actually makes logical and coherent sense. But to totally shift official public comments in another direction 2 days before Game #1 is unconscionable on Hamilton's part. There has been nothing official for weeks and months to the contrary . . . until NOW!

10ECMATT writes:

Hamilton needs to apologize to the athletes, school, and the fans. It's time for him to take a hike.

samvol writes:

This mess is really making it hard for me to work with these two idiots…one a Vandy fan and the other a Kentucky fan….

DenverVol writes:

What a joke this has all become. I'm already embarrassed on behalf of Pearl (lying, cheating and crying). Now Hamilton has entered those waters.

bseaman7117 writes:

show Hamilton the door...

Biggie writes:

KEEP PEARL!

utdoctor69 writes:

Tennessee athletics’ is in dire need of some adult leadership. This Hamilton fool is methodically, step-by-step destroying the athletic department. And please spare the lame “he’s raised lots of money” line. There are many other AD’s who have raised tons of cash as well.

I’m sure when the SEC AD’S get together, there’s no doubt amongst the other eleven who the village idiot is. Hopefully, when Tennessee’s new fiscal year begins, UT will get a competent AD. If the little weasel Hamilton had any human decency in his pathetic little body, he’d man up and resign due disaster after disaster on his watch. The most disturbing thing about the disaster after disaster is that they were all avoidable. But that’s what happens when you put a smug weasel in a man’s job.

Mike Hamilton: Man up and resign!

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

I thought I heard Paul Finebaum call Mike Hamilton a weasel on his radio Sirius-XM radio show yesterday!Did anyone else hear that?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

One article on this site about basketball and the tourney!!!??? It has 2 comments(both mine pat my own back). This is all Media nonsense!!!! KNS stop this! Do the right thing and put out some game preview articles!!! I don't want to hear speculations, hints , and DIGS to get posters to post this idiocy! If Pearl leaves he leaves. If Hammy leaves he leaves!!
We're in the NCAA tournament and that didn't use to happen that often.

jbocap writes:

What about apologizing to the team, you know, the student athletes you are suppose to be supportive of? Maybe he will wait until they are "out of the tournament".

I cant help but wonder if this apology came as a result of an irate fan base regarding his untimely & inappropriate comments.

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to The_Mayor:

Ringling Brothers, Hamilton and Pearl Circus. WE ARE UT...ugh

X 2

wagee12 writes:

Keep Pearl!
Hammy got set up by one of the great muckrakers in Tennessee sports media, Jimma HiYams. Why in the world would Hammy do an interview with this hatchet man and let HiYams lead him into making such statements?

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

"I do not entertain hypotheticals, the world as it is, is vexing enough." Col. Stonehill

JohnnyD writes:

If PEARL IS FIRED...My loyalty to the University of Tennessee is over!!!! This goes for every sport including FOOTBALL!!!

CoverOrange writes:

He apologized to BP but didn't make a public statement to clear up the comments. Telling. He stands by the original statements.

lemich writes:

Hamilton needs to publicly apologize to UT Alumni, Students, and fans, and then pack his bags and get out. Shades of Auburn trying to hire Petrino while Tuberville was still their coach!

gillblog writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

I thought I heard Paul Finebaum call Mike Hamilton a weasel on his radio Sirius-XM radio show yesterday!Did anyone else hear that?

Heard the same thing. I also heard PF yesterday on a Memphis radio show just blasting Hamilton. At one point he said something like, 'no one could possibly respect this guy as an AD....'.

BigHouse_of_IceGulp writes:

Lang Wiseman for new AD!

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

Wow, Charles Barkley just blasted Mike Hamilton also. I think He said Hamilton should be blamed for the Lane Kiffen thing more than anything else.

Halls3 writes:

You people are insane. If Pearl were a marginal coach he would have already been fired. He has to go, you all need to accept that fact. I think Hamilton should go too but in his defense, the football stadium & basketball arena have never looked better. He has produced many great facilities in his time that without him wouldn't be here.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

I thought I heard Paul Finebaum call Mike Hamilton a weasel on his radio Sirius-XM radio show yesterday!Did anyone else hear that?

If anyone can identify a weasel it is finebum

Vol-nbammer writes:

Before the NCAA tournament begins Hamilton comes out with this??? Well, I guess my bracket is screwed! Not to mention any hope we had of recruiting for next year. Thanks Mike!

HOSSFLY writes:

if the University keeps pearl (my vote is yes) and stands by him in whatever the ncaa throws at him, he will pay us back tenfold with his loyalty, which in the long run, will bring us more wins and ultimately championships. but, this hamilton fool needs to be gone quickly. i hope the string pullers have seen this latest bs the same way many of us have seen it.

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to budd#207344:

If anyone can identify a weasel it is finebum

I used to think PF was a big jerk also. I know PF will make sometimes harsh comments, but I think Finebaum's comments are for the most part more than fair in most cases! JMO. I am not a fan of Finebaum's show, but I listen because of the many cast members of "one flew over the coo coos nest" that call in his show! JMO!

vol_4_fan writes:

Hamilton is trying to save his own backside through this. He has handled this situation as bad or worse than the Fulmer firing ordeal. No matter what Hamilton has to go! Go Vols!

DMyles writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

DennisVols writes:

I have always said that if the children do bad things chances are the parents did not have the necessary control. Ever see a child throw a temper tantrum in public? Now how does this kid know that they can get away with this? It is because the parent did not take the necessary steps early on to put a stop to it.
The same thing has happened at UT for the last several years. Kiffin was, and is, a renegade, at coaching. His actions and that of the other children playing with him are about to cost UT football. Who should have been watching the store? Hamilton.
I know Bruce did some thing wrong and he has paid a heavy price for his mistakes, unlike Tressel at OSU, and in the end there is a very good chance he will have to pay even more in NCAA penalties. If Hamilton fires Bruce it would be to try and cover his own backside. Then who do you hire? Who is going to want to come into a program that very well could be on probation, have reduced scholarships and be banned from playing in the tournament?
Big picture here says Hamilton caught wind of the backlash from his statement and again is trying to cover his backside.
This guy has failed to do his job which was to protect UT’s athletics’ program from people like Kiffin, who he hired as a knee jerk reaction from poor planning prior to firing Fulmer. I am not saying firing Fulmer was wrong but what I am saying is not having a plan for who you are going to hire before you fire Fulmer was wrong. If Hamilton did not know the things that were going on, were going on then he is just as much to blame as the ones who did it. Parent – child relationship
Keeping it Real
GoVols!!!

thevoice writes:

Condredge for AD. Now.

thevoice writes:

Rick Byrd for next head coach. Monday.

Smokey_Chow writes:

the big "OOPS"

Hey off topic here but the NCAA just got underway and i just realized you can watch them live on NCAA's website... like the real deal. not game tracker junk.

http://www.smokeychow.com/2011/03/wat...

VOLliven2it writes:

He apologizes NOW after he has humiliated himself, made the UT administration look wishy-washy, and put an incredible amount of pressure on the team. I find it hard to believe it's sincere. However, to intimate that this is Hyams' fault is ludicrous. I do not believe for a second Mike Hamilton did not know what he was doing. But to be led there by the radio host, come on it's what they do! No these words came out. They are not good for him or anyone. I hope, just hope he faces the music as it seems our head coach will have to do for his misdoings.
What a doggone soap opera! Please men in Orange, step up and show the super3shooters from Michigan a thing or two. Begin with tough and close defense. GO BIG ORANGE!
Totally agree with poster who says his/her blood is orange. If we leave over a popular coach being fired or forced out we are far less than REAL UT FANS! That's not just my opinion, it's the truth!

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to thevoice:

Rick Byrd for next head coach. Monday.

I hope Pearl stays. UT Can get passed the punishment phase and everyone just move the flip on! There I said it and I am not taking it back!

I do like Rick Byrd as a basketball coach though. He has built Belmont from scratch almost. I hope Belmont beats Wisconin.

sec_fan writes:

First if you fire Mike Hamilton you have to fire Bruce Pearl too. He is the one that lied to the NCAA and caused most of this mess. If you want Hamilton fired it is for hiring Bruce Pearl and to have him fired before Bruce Pearl makes no sense. (Yes I know about Kiffen but his Legacy is not going to be half as damaging in the long run.

KCHS63 writes:

We already have a proven and dynamic Athletic Director on the payroll. You already have the big hat. Jump up on that big white horse, Derek, and come to the rescue!!! And, he has a successful former Athletic Director to give him advice when he goes home for Thanksgiving. No-brainer.............

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to sec_fan:

First if you fire Mike Hamilton you have to fire Bruce Pearl too. He is the one that lied to the NCAA and caused most of this mess. If you want Hamilton fired it is for hiring Bruce Pearl and to have him fired before Bruce Pearl makes no sense. (Yes I know about Kiffen but his Legacy is not going to be half as damaging in the long run.

I know some big USC fans. Trust me here. Lane Kiffins reputation as a great recruiter but a less than reputable person is well known in the USC camp and the college football world is well known. I think most people in the college football world understand that Hamilton made a colossal mistake in hiring Kiffin.

VolAtUGA11 writes:

Pearl's going to resign. He's most likely already been asked by Cheek or Hamilton.

As for Hamilton, he's a great fundraiser but he took one bridge too far in being an AD. You shouldn't hire/fire university, college coaches for reasons of money.

Cldvols1 writes:

in response to JohnnyD:

If PEARL IS FIRED...My loyalty to the University of Tennessee is over!!!! This goes for every sport including FOOTBALL!!!

Hey man/woman stuff happens but to allow your allegiance to perish for the University of Tennessee? Like a lot of other Vol fans I bleed Orange and will stand by them no matter what. Now Go Vols!!!

HoraceMorris writes:

Mike Hamilton is a bean counter. He's good at making money for the athletic program, but that's about it. His hires have been awful aside from Pearl (great hire) and Dooley (decent hire so far). To come out and say this now is unacceptable.

gillblog writes:

IF all it takes to be AD is to put people in the seats, why not hire Lady GaGa... or whatever her name is? Her sports decisions couldn't be much worse than Hamilton's.

Volapalooza writes:

First of all, I'm a big Pearl guy, but I've heard from somebody close to the situation, and I'm not referring to Snooki, a ton of money will be thrown at Jay Wright. If he turns us down we'll move on to Mike Anderson at Mizzoo, then Danny Manning.

rockytoplady writes:

in response to thevoice:

Condredge for AD. Now.

Yes, Mike is an embarrasment now. Keep Bruce!

Katphan29 writes:

in response to JohnnyD:

If PEARL IS FIRED...My loyalty to the University of Tennessee is over!!!! This goes for every sport including FOOTBALL!!!

Yea, like Johnny D says! I'm all for keeping Pearl, UT should not fire him.

BigBadVol writes:

in response to CatScratchFever:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Cat, I thought the same thing.

Pearl lied no question, but he has taken his medicine like a man. He has only blamed himself and he has been very remorseful. What has this got him? Nothing. He should have acted like Calhoun and cried the punishment was too great. Our society has become a society of hypocrites.

Rocky_Top_Mama writes:

Was it a sincere apology? I highly doubt it. My guess is the backlash toward Hamilton and the rest of the UT cronies were so bad that Hamilton was forced to issue an apology. Unfortunately, the damage has been done, which will probably cost UT a win tomorrow. Instead of enjoying the games, all players, fans, etc. will have to listen to this garbage throughout the entire NCAA tourney. Mike Hamilton you're an idiot!!!!

12Hours writes:

in response to DutchOrangeVolsOrange:

I know some big USC fans. Trust me here. Lane Kiffins reputation as a great recruiter but a less than reputable person is well known in the USC camp and the college football world is well known. I think most people in the college football world understand that Hamilton made a colossal mistake in hiring Kiffin.

If this is true and your "big USC fans" know Kiffin is a joke and Hamilton a fool for hiring him, then why did USC hire him??
Sorry, but that makes no sense.
Further, if UT fans thought Hamilton made such a big mistake with the Kiffin hire, then why were fans so mad when he left.
Fans thought Kiffin was great till he back stabbed us. If he hadn't done that Hamilton's hire would not have been questioned.
As for Pearl, it was Hamilton who hired him so he should get credit for that. It is Bruce alone who lied to the NCAA. Even Bruce acknowledges that.
I agree Hamilton should have passed on this whole interview with Hymes, but everything else falls on Pearl and Kiffin. No grounds to fire Hamilton.

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