Tobias Harris on his future with the team
Bruce Pearl doesn't know when his job evaluation will take place with the University of Tennessee administration or what his future holds.
"As far as Tobias' future at Tennessee, it depends on if Bruce Pearl will be there,'' Harris Sr., a former NBA agent, said Saturday.
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said in an interview with WNML that aired Wednesday that Pearl's future as coach is uncertain and could hedge on his job evaluation.
The men's basketball program faces allegations of 10 major violations, including an unethical conduct charge against Pearl for lying to NCAA investigators. UT is scheduled to go before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis on June 10-11.
Pearl, who has coached the Vols the past six seasons, has been working under a Letter of Appointment since learning on Sept. 9, 2010, that his contract was being terminated.
"I would anticipate my review would be taking place shortly,'' Pearl said Saturday. "My hope is that when I'm reviewed, we'll take into account the good with the bad.''
The Vols' school-record sixth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance was a short one, ending Friday with a 75-45 loss to Michigan in a second-round game at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C.
Torrel Harris blamed UT's poor performance on Hamilton's untimely comments.
"Tobias and the team went through so much adversity this year, and they still made the NCAA tournament, and that's hard as hell to accomplish,'' said Torrel Harris.
"So you get to the point where you're in the NCAA tournament, it's a new season at 0-0, then the AD says 'we don't know about your coach,' '' he said. "That threw everybody's psyche off, because all the guys love Bruce Pearl.
"Mike Hamilton blew them away.''
Pearl reiterated he doesn't blame Hamilton's interview for the team's embarrassing loss.
"The timing was unfortunate, but it's no excuse for our becoming unraveled in the second half,'' Pearl said. "One of the things about this season, our players and coaches have felt the pressures of the situation throughout it.
"So to say that the pressure was brought on at the end, while it was surprising, uncomfortable and difficult to hear, it's not an excuse, and Mike Hamilton should not be blamed for our loss,'' he said. "It was definitely not Mike's intention to be disruptive.''
Hamilton, who has not made any public comments or returned calls to the News Sentinel since last Wednesday, apologized to Pearl and his coaching staff Wednesday night.
Still, Torrel Harris said he believed the university administration when it said it was going to stand behind Pearl.
"Coach Pearl is our coach,'' UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek said at a Nov. 19 news conference. "He's going to be our coach for many, many years. We're going to get through this adversity and we're going to be stronger as a result of it.''
Torrel Harris said the departure of support weighed heavily on the players.
"So instead of the players thinking about the game, they start thinking about coach Pearl being gone if they lose,'' he said. "That's the pressure the AD put on the kids, and those kids haven't dealt with and aren't ready for that kind of pressure.''
Torrel Harris said if UT doesn't retain Pearl, it forces his son to turn professional.
Underclassmen have until April 24 to declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft. If they do not sign an agent, they can be evaluated and return with eligibility.
But a new NCAA rule makes underclassmen declare by May 8 if they are staying in the draft. Previously, the date was in mid-June - and that's still the NBA's rule, much to the advantage of European players.
"So if coach Pearl isn't still here, and there isn't a new coach, and you don't know about the NCAA infractions, you have a really short window to decide,'' Torrel Harris said. "You don't want to transfer and sit out a year, so we don't really have any choice left but to go pro if Bruce isn't there any more.''
Tobias Harris, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound forward, is projected as a late first-round pick by Draftexpress.com and NBADraft.net.
"We'll just take it one step at a time,'' Torrel Harris said, "and support Bruce as best as we can.''
On Twitter, Tobias Harris sent out a tweet Saturday morning that said: "Wish yesterday was just a dream I could wake up from ..."
2011-12 Schedule: UT associate head coach Tony Jones worked on the schedule for next season on Saturday.
"We're in discussions to play a high-major opponent from the ACC, Big East or Big 12 in a home-and-home,'' Jones said. "There's also a good chance we'll get a home game in the SEC/Big East challenge."
Jones said UT plays at Oakland and at the College of Charleston next season in addition to at Memphis. UT will also play home games against UNC Asheville and Austin Peay, according to Jones.