Fans react to Tennessee's firing of coach Bruce Pearl
Vol Hoops 2010-2011: Out-Dribbled by Distraction and Disappointment
- Vol Hoops 2010-2011: Out-Dribbled by Distraction and Disappointment
- Public reaction to NCAA letter sent to UT
- Bruce Pearl on his suspension challenging the team
- Tony Jones on coaching during Bruce Pearl's absence
- Bruce Pearl suspended for 8 SEC games
- Athletic director, chancellor address NCAA investigation
- Bruce Pearl comments on NCAA investigation
The University of Tennessee fired men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl on Monday, ending six days of increased speculation about his job status with a program facing NCAA allegations of 10 major violations.
Pearl, 51, coached the Vols the past six seasons, compiling a 145-61 record. He led the team to a school-record six consecutive NCAA tournaments, including the first Elite Eight appearance in the 102-year history of the program last season.
Tennessee started this season 7-0 and peaked with a No. 7 national ranking in mid-December before finishing 19-15.
The Vols' fade was accentuated by its season-ending 75-45 loss to Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament Friday - the most-lopsided margin of defeat in Pearl's tenure.
Pearl came under fire when the NCAA delivered a Letter of Inquiry to the school on Sept. 10, 2010.
Athletic director Mike Hamilton announced on that day that Pearl would likely face an unethical conduct charge on account of a June 14, 2010 interview with the NCAA during which he provided false and misleading testimony.
When shown a picture of him and Ohio State freshman Aaron Craft – then a junior in high school who at the time had made a verbal (non-binding) commitment to UT – Pearl said he didn't know where the picture was taken.
The picture was taken at Pearl's house on Sept. 20, 2008, and served as proof of what's usually a secondary violation; unofficial visitors aren't allowed to have off-campus contact with members of the coaching staff.
Pearl tearfully apologized in the Sept. 10 press conference, and UT stepped in with severe, unprecedented self-imposed penalties.
Pearl's contract was terminated, his salary was reduced $1.5 million over the next five seasons and he was banned from off-campus recruiting for a year, effective Sept. 24, 2010.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive announced on Nov. 19, 2010, that he was suspending Pearl for the first half (eight games) of the league season.
Hamilton and UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek said at the time the school was standing behind Pearl, even if it turned out that the NCAA was going to suspend him from coaching for a year, as had been the precedent for providing misleading testimony.
When UT revealed the Notice of Allegations it received from the NCAA on Feb. 23, the men's basketball program stood accused of 10 major violations.
The only violation that had not previously been made public involved a Sept. 14 “bump violation,'' during which the NCAA Enforcement Staff deemed that Pearl had made excessive incidental contact with a recruit at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.
Two sources told the News Sentinel that UT planned to appeal the violation, as Pearl and Vols associate head coach Tony Jones said the unplanned contact did not exceed what's generally considered acceptable – 30 to 45 seconds.
Hamilton tipped fans and media off in an interview that aired last Wednesday that UT's stance on Pearl had changed, as the school was no longer sure it would stand behind the embattled coach.
More details as they develop.