The demise of Bruce Pearl

Basketball program's free-fall began in 2008

University of Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, left, Knoxville Chancellor Dr. Jimmy Cheek, center, and Director of Athletics Mike Hamilton during a press conference Friday, Sep. 10, 2010 to discuss the 'Letter of Inquiry' from the NCAA concerning basketball recruiting.

Photo by Michael Patrick

University of Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl, left, Knoxville Chancellor Dr. Jimmy Cheek, center, and Director of Athletics Mike Hamilton during a press conference Friday, Sep. 10, 2010 to discuss the "Letter of Inquiry" from the NCAA concerning basketball recruiting.

The big, blue and white bus climbed the Appalachian Mountains on March 19 carrying the Tennessee men's basketball team back from a shameful showing in a game that tipped off 24 hours earlier.

Associate head coach Tony Jones manned the front passenger seat normally reserved for coach Bruce Pearl, who on this particular trip traveled back with a support group that included his mother, father and wife.

Vol Hoops 2010-2011: Out-Dribbled by Distraction and Disappointment

"The bus was very quiet, subdued,'' Jones said of the trip home from Charlotte, N.C., where the season ended with a disappointing 75-45 loss to Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

"That was the longest 4 1/2-hour ride of my life; I was thinking about a lot of things,'' Jones said. "I didn't know for sure what we were coming home to.''

Last Monday, two days after the Vols returned to Knoxville, Pearl, along with his staff, was fired, ending months of intense media scrutiny and speculation ongoing since UT held a Sept. 10 press conference to release the Letter of Inquiry it had received from the NCAA.

The letter, which signaled the start of an official investigation by the NCAA Enforcement staff, indicated Pearl provided NCAA investigators with false information about impermissible contact made with unofficial visitors during a cookout at his home.

The official announcement of Pearl's firing came in document form, too, via a press release at 10 p.m. Monday.

Vols athletic director Mike Hamilton explained in the press release that, "The cumulative effect of the evolution of the investigation combined with a number of more recent non-NCAA-related incidents have led to a belief that this staff cannot be viable at Tennessee in the future.''

It had been nearly a week (March 16) since Hamilton had made any public statements, written or verbal.

The act of firing Pearl began Monday morning, but the fiery head coach didn't go easily, arguing his reasons to remain in charge and raising his voice on more than one occasion in Hamilton's office, according to sources with direct knowledge of the meeting.

Pearl went so far as to return for an afternoon session in Stokely Athletic Center before finally exiting the building around 4 p.m.

Pearl's attorney arrived to meet with university attorneys shortly after 5 p.m. Monday to hammer out the terms of separation.

Pearl's payout will be $948,728. He'll receive his current monthly salary of $109,599.40 through June 30, after which he will receive $50,000 per month plus health insurance costs through June 30, 2012.

Pearl's assistants - Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay - will be paid their current salaries through July 31.

The Cookout

The fall of the Pearl era began Sept. 20, 2008.

The News Sentinel featured a recruiting story that day which began with an innocent sentence that proved foretelling: "Tennessee's football game with Florida also marks one of the bigger men's basketball team recruiting weekends in coach Bruce Pearl's tenure.''

The Vols were coming off a historic season in which they won a school-record 31 games and attained the No. 1 ranking in the Top 25 polls for the first time in school history. The regular season ended with Tennessee No. 1 in the RPI ratings and No. 1 in strength of schedule, two more firsts in the history of the program.

Tennessee men's basketball had momentum like never before, and the visitor list on that fateful September weekend reflected as much.

The Gators beat the football Vols 30-6 that day with Pearl's recruits in attendance, but an even bigger setback in UT athletics was just beginning.

Pearl, along with his assistant coaches and some of their family members, went to Pearl's West Knoxville home in Gettysvue for a cookout.

Not all of the recruits were invited. Only the official visitors, and the three unofficial visitors - high school juniors - who had made verbal commitments to sign with the Vols: Jordan McRae, Josh Selby and Aaron Craft.

The recruits were at Pearl's home for only a couple of hours, according to a source who was present. It was long enough for Craft to have his picture taken with Pearl; a happy future Vol with a happy coach.

Fast Forward

Craft, who was not rated in the top 100 players when Pearl accepted his commitment, announced he was changing his mind on May 26, 2009.

"Basically, I sat down with my family and decided this would be best for me,'' Craft told the News Sentinel at the time of his de-commitment. "It was nothing Tennessee did or didn't do.''

Ohio State's Aaron Craft (4) steals the ball from George Mason's Andre Cornelius in the first half of an East regional NCAA college basketball tournament third-round game Sunday, March 20, 2011, in Cleveland.

Photo by AP Photo / Amy Sancetta

Ohio State's Aaron Craft (4) steals the ball from George Mason's Andre Cornelius in the first half of an East regional NCAA college basketball tournament third-round game Sunday, March 20, 2011, in Cleveland.

Rather, it was a calling from his home-state school, Ohio State, which had not offered Craft a scholarship until after his commitment to the Vols.

In July, after the LeBron James Nike Camp in Ohio, the Vols lost prized recruit Selby, who announced he no longer was committed to UT.

The UT staff went back to work on the recruiting trail, landing McDonald's All-American Tobias Harris and Georgia player of the year Trae Golden, once an Ohio State commit, while holding on to McRae.

Once the regular season started, a veteran team began going through its own trials and tribulations.

A New Year's Day traffic stop involving star player Tyler Smith, Brian Williams, Cameron Tatum and Melvin Goins resulted in suspensions of varying lengths and Smith being permanently dismissed.

Smith faced misdemeanor weapons charges, Williams misdemeanor drug charges and Tatum was charged with speeding.

The black eye on the program was short-lived, however, as an undermanned Tennessee team bounced back to defeat No. 1-ranked Kansas 76-68 on Jan. 10 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The win over the Jayhawks proved to be a sign of things to come, as Pearl guided UT to the first Elite Eight in the school's history by defeating No. 5 Ohio State 76-73 in the Sweet 16 in St. Louis.

NCAA Visit

The summer of 2010 began with the knowledge that the NCAA was checking into the activities of former UT football coach Lane Kiffin and his staff.

Few could have known that on June 14, Pearl provided false and misleading information to NCAA investigators.

Forbes was first to be brought into an office in the Andy Holt Tower to meet with investigators.

When shown a black-and-white grainy photo of Pearl with Craft that was printed out on paper, Forbes was the first to say he couldn't be absolutely sure where the picture was taken.

The university attorneys had advised the coaches to answer only the questions they were asked, according to a source with knowledge of the interview session.

Shay was the next to be brought in, followed by Jones and then Pearl.

It wasn't until the next week that a restless Pearl determined his testimony couldn't stand, at which point he sought out a UT associate athletic director to ask for another interview, according to Hamilton.

Hamilton said he was out of town at that time, but upon returning in early July and learning of Pearl's plight, he took up the issue with the NCAA.

The NCAA granted Pearl and his staff another interview session in the Andy Holt Tower on Aug. 5, at which time all of the coaches identified the location the picture was taken.

The Public Eye

Many were caught off-guard when UT announced it would hold a press conference on Sept. 10 to reveal the Letter of Inquiry.

Bruce Pearl comments on NCAA investigation

University of Tennessee men's basketball Coach Bruce Pearl expresses remorse for giving misleading information to the NCAA during press conference on Sep. 10, 2010 at the Stokely Family Media Center at Neyland Stadium. Pearl's compensation was reduced by $1.5 million over the next five years as a result of a NCAA investigation into the Tennessee basketball program in June.

Photo by Michael Patrick

University of Tennessee men's basketball Coach Bruce Pearl expresses remorse for giving misleading information to the NCAA during press conference on Sep. 10, 2010 at the Stokely Family Media Center at Neyland Stadium. Pearl's compensation was reduced by $1.5 million over the next five years as a result of a NCAA investigation into the Tennessee basketball program in June.

Even more shocking was Pearl's presence at Neyland Stadium and the revelation that the men's basketball program was involved and Pearl had not been forthcoming with NCAA investigators.

Pearl issued a tearful apology, in the midst of which, the stadium fire alarm went off.

Official statements were handed out, along with documentation that detailed the severe, self-imposed sanctions that Hamilton hoped would lead the NCAA to show mercy.

Among the penalties, all of the coaches had their salaries reduced by 25 percent, Pearl and Forbes would serve one-year off-campus recruiting bans, with Jones getting a nine-month sentence and Shay three.

"I have no tolerable answer for why I didn't tell the truth

. . . I let my family down, I let the university down, I let our fans down and I let my players down,'' Pearl said Sept. 10. "I have a responsibility to lead by example, and I should expect more from myself and so should you.''

Pearl and his staff were given two weeks to complete the fall recruiting and carry out scheduled visits, as their recruiting bans wouldn't start until Sept. 24.

On Oct. 21, Hamilton revealed that Pearl's contract had been terminated on Sept. 9, the day before the Letter of Inquiry press conference.

"It doesn't change our stance that we want Bruce Pearl to be our basketball coach for months and years to come,'' Hamilton told the News Sentinel that day. "The bottom line is the nature of what came to light in the (NCAA) investigation warranted termination of his previous contract as determined by legal counsel.

"That, coupled with the fact we are making changes to the compensation, led to the necessity of a new contract which he has in his hands already. We're in the final stages of getting that signed.''

Mike Slive Weighs In

On Nov. 19, SEC commissioner Mike Slive announced that Pearl would be suspended for the first half of the SEC season, a penalty of eight games.

It was another unprecedented move, but UT administrators rallied behind Pearl at a press conference the day of Slive's announcement.

"Coach Pearl is our coach,'' UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek said on Nov. 19. "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.''

Pearl still didn't have a new contract in his hand, though sources on both ends of the deal said the holdup had nothing to do with salary or bonuses.

Cheek assured the media that Pearl's new contract was soon to be finished.

"Currently it's (the contract) in our general counsel's office and we hope to have that from her very soon,'' Cheek said. "We will get the contract finalized. We believe we've made the right decision.''

All signs pointed toward Pearl being retained, even while ESPN commentator Dick Vitale said that "99 percent" of schools would have fired Pearl for his infractions.

Hamilton told the News Sentinel on Jan. 8 in Fayetteville, Ark., that it was UT's intention to keep Pearl so long as "there aren't any major violations we're unaware of,'' even if the NCAA mandated Pearl be suspended for a year.

New Revelation

On Feb. 22, the Vols received their Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, a report from the enforcement staff detailing their findings.

There were 10 major violations listed. The only one that had not been made public previously involved a "bump violation" that took place on Sept. 14 at Oak Hill (Va.) Academy.

Pearl and Jones were sitting in the bleachers when they were approached by potential recruit Jordan Adams.

In happenstance meetings, coaches are allowed to exchange pleasantries, but the conversation is not to be excessive.

Two sources - one in the UT basketball program, another in the UT administration - said on the day the Notice of Allegations arrived that UT would appeal the violation during its June 10-11 meetings in Indianapolis with the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

At the time, most everyone assumed that the decision to appeal the bump violation meant that UT would maintain its support of Pearl.

Vols receive No.9 seed; will play Michigan in NCAA tournament

Change Of Direction

On March 13, the UT basketball family - coaches, wives, children, donors and school officials - gathered in the Ray Mears Room at Thompson-Boling Arena to view the selection show for the NCAA tournament.

As expected, the Vols received a school-record sixth consecutive bid to play in the NCAA tournament.

Hamilton, while present, did not publicly address the team or the crowd and had left the room by the time Pearl began his interviews with the media.

Hamilton was not heard from again until March 16, when Knoxville radio station WNML broadcast an interview recorded the day before in which he said he was unsure if Pearl would be the coach next season.

The interview aired 20 minutes after the big, blue and white bus left for Charlotte, full of players intent on saving their season with a deep run into the NCAA tournament.

As the bus rolled along, players and coaches received text messages and phone calls from friends and family members informing them of Hamilton's interview.

The next day, at the pregame NCAA tournament interview session in Time Warner Cable Arena, Pearl and his players spent the majority of their time answering questions about Pearl's future and Hamilton's comments.

Pearl and the players said the comments should not stand in the way of their focus or performance, but the embarrassing second-half collapse the Vols experienced against Michigan suggested otherwise.

Torrel Harris, father of Tobias Harris, was incensed in the wake of the loss.

"Instead of them thinking about the game, they start thinking about Coach Pearl being gone if they lose,'' Harris said. "It had a huge effect on the kids and the outcome of the game.

"Mike Hamilton blew them away.''

And then Hamilton fired Pearl.

Final Chapter

In Hamilton's statement Monday, there were references to a March violation and "non-NCAA-related" incidents.

It has since been learned that a UT player received extra tickets to the Vols' game against Kentucky on March 6, the final home game of the season, though the value of the tickets made it a secondary violation, according to a source in the athletic program.

Vols signee Kevin Ware said that immediately after the game with the Wildcats, Hamilton met with recruits and their families and assured them Pearl would be UT's head coach next season and that his contract was done.

As for the non-NCAA-related incident, ESPN.com has reported that it involved a violation of the UT substance abuse policy by Williams. Williams missed the last two games of the regular season with a bad back, according to Pearl and Williams.

Williams, who had back problems throughout his career, said he tweaked his back in a Feb. 26 loss to Mississippi State. At one point in the game, he stayed down for an extended period of time after landing awkwardly.

Williams didn't practice from Feb. 27 through March 6, and some have speculated that another reason Williams missed the two games was that he failed to take a drug test, a violation of policy.

Drug test results are considered private and are not subject to public records requests; but along with Pearl, Hamilton and the corresponding UT associate athletic director have access to test results.

While strong sentiments for Pearl and his staff linger in the community, the administration has moved forward in its search for a new head coach.

Coordinator of video operations and former Appalachian State head coach Houston Fancher has assumed interim head coaching duties.

Fancher already has scored one victory for Tennessee, calling Ware's father, Wesley, after Kevin Ware asked to be released from his National Letter of Intent after Pearl's firing.

Ware said later Wednesday night he had changed his mind, sending word via his Twitter account that he was a "VFL" - Vol For life.

When is it going to be about us, the players, again?

Jordan McRae

Fancher garnered the attention of the team in his first words as acting head coach after Hamilton had addressed the returning UT players.

"Mike asked me if I had anything to say to the team,'' Fancher said. "I said 'Yes,' and I turned to the team and said, 'Take off your hats, and look me directly in the eye.' "

Fancher invited the team to his home that night to share their feelings and concerns in the wake of Pearl's firing.

All of the returning players took him up on it, and the team congregated on Fancher's back porch.

Halfway through the team talk, McRae stood up and asked Fancher a question that the 45-year-old interim coach could not answer.

"When,'' McRae said, "is it going to be about us, the players, again?''

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Comments » 91

VOLDoll writes:

Who cares, it is already starting to smell better here in Knoxville.

wildmed writes:

Let's hope it starts being about the players sooner than later.

VOLtage writes:

Hopefully UT sports will now get back to being as pure as the driven snow and stop being as dirty as 4 day old snow in New York city.

Volumnus writes:

McRae nailed it. For a long, long time the Vol basketball experience has not been about the student athlete. It hasn't been about a "TEAM" for a long, long time. CBP was not content to win well with second tier players that he knew how to coach and motivate. He recruited a level of talent and ego's that he could not manage and his ego grew with the process. Sadly it cratered the program.

jumboliyah writes:

Tyler, Tatum, Williams...three thugs who had potential but no discipline...sadly Pearl failed to lead them and teahc them discipline. The inconsistency carried over to the whole team.

A freshman was the most focused and driven player on the team, and it showed. This was a study in what happens when character takes a back seat to reputation.

Tobias Harris has the character to match his reputation, I hope he stays...but for the thugs I say kick the can down the road. I sold my tickets in January when I got tired of the thug displays before during and after the games.

There are plenty of great young coaches out there...I for one am glad to see this era of thugism end. The Chris Loftons and Juan Smiths of the world are the type of players we need.

VolWoman writes:

Am I blind or is there no author listed on this article? Was it written by more than one person on the staff or what?

BillsBrother writes:

I think it will be about the players as soon as there is a different athletic director.

not_guilty writes:

Coach Pearl has loads of coaching talent. Releasing him was the right thing to do, in that we don't want players who have been reared by parents or parent surrogates who would entrust their children to an admitted liar.

Look what kind of football recruits Coach Kiffin and Coach Orgeron signed. Where are they now? (Not in Knoxville preparing to win championships beginning this fall)

pinkorblue writes:

Even though Bruce was in the wrong and Dickie V was right when he said 99% of schools would have fired him, the fault ultimately lies with Hamilton. Fire Hamilton and start completely from scratch. That's the only way I think it'll ever be about the players again, in any sport.

slambob2#228938 writes:

I've heard Mike Hamilton has done great things for the University. And I'm very impressed with his family's commitment to making the world a better place.

That said, the state of UT athletics since he took over has been volatile, and the future looks no better.

I think it's time for Mike to step aside.

Maybe the handful of people who control UT athletics should listen to the fans.

JayGee writes:

Good story. The problem is that it is based on facts.

VOLinAthensGA writes:

Knowing all this, I will still be grateful for all Bruce did for the program.

822VolFan writes:

in response to pinkorblue:

Even though Bruce was in the wrong and Dickie V was right when he said 99% of schools would have fired him, the fault ultimately lies with Hamilton. Fire Hamilton and start completely from scratch. That's the only way I think it'll ever be about the players again, in any sport.

I totally disagree with those who are trying to make Hamilton the scapegoat in this fiasco. Any misstep by Hamilton (ill-timed remarked prior to the NCAA game) pales in comparison to what Pearl did. In fact, there's no comparison.

Hamilton did what anyone would do--expect his coaches to honor their commitments and the rules and regulations that govern their job. Pearl failed miserably in that he knowingly violated NCAA rules and he lied to cover it up. And, after confessing, he did it again and again. And that's Hamilton's fault?

Come on--that's what's wrong with our society--we do wrong but it's always someone else's fault.

Tennball writes:

"where the season ended with a disappointing 75-45 loss to Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament."

Can someone remond me who we beat in the first round?

Tennball writes:

in response to Tennball:

"where the season ended with a disappointing 75-45 loss to Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament."

Can someone remond me who we beat in the first round?

remind*
Unless they are saying the "play in games" are the first round.

dislikethemtrolls writes:

Love Bruce and all the excitement he brought, but he was his own worst enemy. Sad. Not that it matters, but I never heard the story of how ncaa got their hands on the pic. Anyone know?

gvegasvol writes:

in response to 822VolFan:

I totally disagree with those who are trying to make Hamilton the scapegoat in this fiasco. Any misstep by Hamilton (ill-timed remarked prior to the NCAA game) pales in comparison to what Pearl did. In fact, there's no comparison.

Hamilton did what anyone would do--expect his coaches to honor their commitments and the rules and regulations that govern their job. Pearl failed miserably in that he knowingly violated NCAA rules and he lied to cover it up. And, after confessing, he did it again and again. And that's Hamilton's fault?

Come on--that's what's wrong with our society--we do wrong but it's always someone else's fault.

Very well put!

GardenGnome writes:

The people who want to chastise Pearl & co. baffle me. He and his staff had a few "bumps" with certain kids and he was untruthful about the conversations... that's all they were ... conversations. He definitely shouldn't have lied about them. All the accusations of him "cheating" is baloney.

Lane Kiffin brought the eyes of the NCAA and ESPN to UT athletic department to shine a bright light on what every other major college athletic department also does, but because BP lied about it, it cost him and the department.

The University had no choice but to let him go, and if they are serious about cleaning up the department, Mike Hamilton should be the next one out the door.

GreerVol22 writes:

Unless Fancher has goals of a head coaching job somewhere, UT needs to find a way to keep him around. The program will be better off.

collegegrad writes:

Well, I wish nothing but the best for the Vols mens basketball team in their recovery from this. Pearl should not have been paid a dime as a result of this. He may have very well ended his career as a result of his actions, because no other university will hire him now. So, he could retire early.

BobKesling_is_overpaid writes:

in response to VOLDoll:

Who cares, it is already starting to smell better here in Knoxville.

You must've moved out of Knoxville then?

VolMoment writes:

in response to 822VolFan:

I totally disagree with those who are trying to make Hamilton the scapegoat in this fiasco. Any misstep by Hamilton (ill-timed remarked prior to the NCAA game) pales in comparison to what Pearl did. In fact, there's no comparison.

Hamilton did what anyone would do--expect his coaches to honor their commitments and the rules and regulations that govern their job. Pearl failed miserably in that he knowingly violated NCAA rules and he lied to cover it up. And, after confessing, he did it again and again. And that's Hamilton's fault?

Come on--that's what's wrong with our society--we do wrong but it's always someone else's fault.

Amen! We need to come together and quit looking for somebody to blame. The people who are Fulmer fans are all ways negative about Hamilton.

12Hours writes:

in response to 822VolFan:

I totally disagree with those who are trying to make Hamilton the scapegoat in this fiasco. Any misstep by Hamilton (ill-timed remarked prior to the NCAA game) pales in comparison to what Pearl did. In fact, there's no comparison.

Hamilton did what anyone would do--expect his coaches to honor their commitments and the rules and regulations that govern their job. Pearl failed miserably in that he knowingly violated NCAA rules and he lied to cover it up. And, after confessing, he did it again and again. And that's Hamilton's fault?

Come on--that's what's wrong with our society--we do wrong but it's always someone else's fault.

Amen!

DarthVol writes:

I'll say it again...Pearl's sin is that he got caught.

I would suggest fans try to be less naive and self-righteous in thinking this, or any other, coach is not committing these type of infractions on a regular basis in an attempt to give their fan bases championships.

You want a straight shooter who plays by the rules? I offer Don Devoe. But he got fired, right? Why? Because there is a price you pay in today's college athletics for trying to do it the "right way". It's why Kentucky doesn't just go out and hire a great coach and allows it's tradition to pull in recruits. It hires Cali. And while they continue to celebrate, we're left trying to figure out where we go from here.

He lied to the bastion of integrity known as the NCAA. Im going to go out on a limb and say he was lying to them way before he was asked a direct question about a specific offense. It's the hypocrisy that we live in. Sign a code of ethics contract saying you'll abide by the rules knowing full well that in order to stay competitive you're going to have to break a few. But to my point at the top...be good enough at it that you don't get caught so that your fans can stay in ignorant bliss.

CCLC writes:

. I often find myself surrounded by UT fans. This is not to be unexpected because, as I’ve mention before, I lived in Tennessee. But, generally speaking, I get along with my UT cousins fifty or so weeks out of the year. And so I was a little concerned when I met with my UT relative to talk Vols. He seemed agitated. Rightfully so, I might add. After all, his basketball team lost by thirty points on national TV and his basketball coach got fired as a result of lying to the NCAA. When I asked him about a rumors I’d heard about whe UT's basketball coach, might possibly be the replacement up in Knoxville, all he could muster was a half-hearted “Vol lock”. I left him alone in his misery but not before reminding him that at least they got a Georgia boy at the helm for their football team. I think his head might actually have exploded at this point.

cdtnladyvols931#663910 writes:

in response to VOLtage:

Hopefully UT sports will now get back to being as pure as the driven snow and stop being as dirty as 4 day old snow in New York city.

THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AS LONG AS THAT STUPID GANG OF MORONS ARE THERE. EVERYONE IS AFRAID TO TAKE THE COACHING JOB-THEY WOULD BE FIRED TOO. ONLY SOMEONE LIKE HE HAD BEFORE PEARL WOULD TAKE THE COACHING JOB.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Open letter to the few who decide our future for us:

You know what? I don't care what kind of whitewashing is going on, I'm going to remind you what it is like to be a Vol. We don't abandon our people when they need us most. Whether we were born in Tennessee or not we are spiritually bound together by a bond that has been forged with blood, sweat, hard work persistence and Jack Daniels....And we are not happy with the way our sensibilites have been toyed with. We made a statement that we were sticking by our coach. You ignored that statement. You embarrassed us in the nation's eyes. We are left holding the bag. Because a select few of you couldn't hang in there and put up with the media scrutiny we are back to square one. If that. Thanks for making up our minds for us. Thanks for "making the hard decisions that we couldn't possibly understand." Let me tell you what I think. The NCAA wouldn't exist if it wasn't for universities like the University of Tennessee. We are the gold standard. We put out the best in collegiate athletics in the country. And you folded under a little pressure. You didn't fight for us. And you left one of us in the field. The Marines have a good philosophy about this. No man left behind. Now, you get to hide behind the facade of the Board, or your tainted wealth, or wherever you hide. We're still here in the field. With Bruce. We will be fine in the long run. You, however, better decide where your loyalties lie. Because the two things we will not abide are being disloyal and being a traitor. Have a good day........

Tim McGowan

shipperman#280095 writes:

Had Pearl been an employee of mine, there would have been no dicussion of raising of voices. I would have gotten Security to escort him out of my office, and there would need to be no "hammering out" seperation details. He was fired, for cause, and deserved not another dime.

jzt writes:

Jim Calhoun is in the Final 4 and we begin another walk of shame in trying to hire a new coach. Yes Pearl is to blame for his actions but lets look at the bigger picture. The NCAA was here because of Lane Kiffin, Hamilton's wonderful hire. Everyone knows when they darken your door something will be found. We all know what happened next, but whose decision was it to start the off campus recruiting ban two weeks after the tear jerker press conference. That is Hamilton's decision not Pearl's. At that point in time Hamilton knew there were problems and instead of acting he once again caved in to a coach. Hamilton is good at raising money but come on raising money at UT is shooting fish in a barrell, this is the only game in town in East Tennessee and the majority of the state except for the Titans and will be that way for eternity in all likelihood. Two extra tickets for a player come on and the Williams thing, I see a coach trying to protect a player, if people on the inside knew differently so what this is an issue that is protected by privacy laws and with a little bit of digging Big Baby may have a big lawsuit thanks to Hamilton's last second "witch hunt." Pearl is gone but why anyone sees the need to keep a bonehead AD is beyond me. His record includes giving Fulmer a $6 million contract two years removed from a losing season, hiring Kiffin with a losing record and a checkered past with the NCAA while at SC. And totally mishandling the entire Pearl situation who is UT's most popular coach ever. Wake up its time for Hamilton to answer some tough questions and lets lose this shroud of silence. I am sure that Pearl's going away money includes silence on his part. I speak for many UT fans we are sick of Hamilton's BS.

winVol writes:

maybe in 10 or 20 years UT basketball will be back but first you have to get rid of the problem which is hamilton. FIRE HAMILTON ,, FIRE HAMILTON ,,,,FIRE HAMILTON,,FIRE HAMILTON

PHAT_VOL writes:

Coach DON DEVOE will be 70 this December. Lots of coachs have coached well into their seventies.
What do you think?
GO DEVOE's VOLS !!!

Madkels writes:

Is Cheek a decendent of Mao Se Tung?

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Dear Pat:

Integrity and honesty are paramount. We live by that. But we also live in a country that allows for mistakes. Bruce Pearl made mistakes and asked for forgiveness. We let him down. I hope you are treated well if you ever need it. Please give that patience you so proudly put on your moniker. Because I don't see any here.

Madkels writes:

Questions. How did the picture of Craft at Pearls home surface in the first place? Where are the charges of excessive phone calls to recruits in the story? Why is the bump such a big issue if the kid approached Pearl while Pearl was sitting in the stands?

hueypilot writes:

Does anybody else see that the NCAA is calling all the shots here? That if sources are correct, Hamilton tried everyway humanly possible to keep Pearl, but the inferences by the NCAA of penalties to the program IF we retained Pearl were so punitive that we had little choice. And those realities became crystal clear somewhere around SEC tourney time, and Hamilton was told to sow the seed that Bruce was gone, thus the (apparently) ill timed press conference.

How did the photo come to light? If Matta got that to the NCAA to start this process, isn't it poetic justice that the NCAA in effect mandated Pearl's firing, and now, with Tressel having lied to the NCAA, can the NCAA do any other than demand Tressel's firing? Or are the Buckeyes politics better than the Vols. Clearly Auburn's is better.

I disagree with others that everybody cheats. How tough would it be for Bruce to tell Craft and Selby, "you can't come to my house because you're a junior?" How tough would it be to tell the Georgia kid at the camp "we can't talk to you for any length of time. Thanks for your interest, Have a nice day." While these are simple inoccuous contacts and events, they had simple fixes and Bruce didn't fix them.

Colliervol writes:

Just a long sad story of five years of hard work and a well-earned status squandered over greed. (Just had to get one more player no matter the cost.) And there is no question that it took HARD work to rescue an awful Tennessee basketball program from where it was for about 30 years.

Keep in mind that a coach this day and time in big time college basketball probably has to be a bit greedy and many of them are doing things in the name of recruiting that would turn one's stomach. Just the way it is in the current climate and, if you don't believe it, you are sadly naive. Pearl was just dumb enough to make a bad decision and get caught and I would have never believed that from a guy who appeared so savvy. But that's the way it is and we move on.

Madkels writes:

So we beat Ohio State in the sweet 16 and Matta is so peeved that he sends the picture to the NCAA? Sore loser?

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Addendum to Patience(or lack therof):

I just read over your response to my comment earlier this morning. We are not the gold standard? "Non revenue sports?" Sorry if the majority of us are proud of our swim team. Or the women's softball team. Or the track team that quietly keeps putting people in the Olympics. Etc, etc., etc. All of our sports are important. And yes we are the gold standard. We do a good job across the board. Look the Tennis team. Watch them win the national championship soon. It's not all about the money. Please realize this before it's too late in your own life. It's obvious your priorities have become eschew. But we won't abandon you. Too bad we can't say the same thing about you.....

Ktow55 writes:

in response to jumboliyah:

Tyler, Tatum, Williams...three thugs who had potential but no discipline...sadly Pearl failed to lead them and teahc them discipline. The inconsistency carried over to the whole team.

A freshman was the most focused and driven player on the team, and it showed. This was a study in what happens when character takes a back seat to reputation.

Tobias Harris has the character to match his reputation, I hope he stays...but for the thugs I say kick the can down the road. I sold my tickets in January when I got tired of the thug displays before during and after the games.

There are plenty of great young coaches out there...I for one am glad to see this era of thugism end. The Chris Loftons and Juan Smiths of the world are the type of players we need.

I agree. the character and culture of our athletic programs are going down the toilet. Its time to start recruiting on character and not just athleticism. Lofton was a perfect example. Jujuan Smith was into some bad things from my knowledge (think similar to Romar Smith.)

A_Voice_ofReason writes:

HEY WITCH NURSE, WHERE ARE YOU?!?! SEEMS LIKE THIS ARTICLE SUMS UP WHAT I'VE BEEN TELLING YOU FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS. FUNNY HOW THE ARTICLE SAYS THAT EXACT SAME THING IVE BEEN SAYING AND THAT IS PEARL HAS BEEN SHAFTING THIS PROGRAM WITH UNETHICAL PRACTICES FOR YEARS.

I'LL ALSO TELL YOU THAT PEARL REALLY SHOWED HIS COLORS WHEN HE MET WITH HAMILTON ON MONDAY! LOOK BACK AT MY POSTS FROM EARLIER IN THE WEEK WHERE AGAIN I TOLD YOU WHAT WOULD HAPPEN!!!!! PEARL MET WITH HAMILTON AND PEARL MAD AN ARSE OF HIMSELF. POOR PEARLY WAS UPSET OVER MONEY!!!! HE DIDNT GET NEAR WHAT HE THOUGHT HE "DESERVED", AND EVEN PROTESTED BY HANGING AROUND THE BASKETBALL COMPLEX MOST OF THE DAY.

YOUR SAVIOR IS GOING TO LEAVE UT IN SHAMBLES, AND FOR THE BONEHEAD THAT SAID THIS SITUATION WON'T BE AS BAD AS INDIANA'S YEARS BACK HE'S RIGHT.....IT WILL BE WORSE!

PREPARE FOR THE NCAA TO HAND IT TO THE VOLS, AND DON'T EXPECT PEARL TO EVER COACH AT THE BIG TIME LEVEL AGAIN. HE'S A SHAM (AGAIN, AS I'VE BEEN TELLING YOU ALL ALONG).

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Voice:

Let go of the caps lock. We can read just fine....

1vavolfan writes:

in response to jumboliyah:

Tyler, Tatum, Williams...three thugs who had potential but no discipline...sadly Pearl failed to lead them and teahc them discipline. The inconsistency carried over to the whole team.

A freshman was the most focused and driven player on the team, and it showed. This was a study in what happens when character takes a back seat to reputation.

Tobias Harris has the character to match his reputation, I hope he stays...but for the thugs I say kick the can down the road. I sold my tickets in January when I got tired of the thug displays before during and after the games.

There are plenty of great young coaches out there...I for one am glad to see this era of thugism end. The Chris Loftons and Juan Smiths of the world are the type of players we need.

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

agentorange writes:

that is a well-written and informative story. nice work, griff.

wpeebles writes:

I still say that Hamilton is an intellectural inferior and needs to walk out the door, as well. Give Pat Summit the AD job- she can handle it along with her lady vols responsibilities. Coach Dooly did it for years at GA before Michael Adams assumed command (that's another DA story, not for here).

etsuvol99#227561 writes:

He's a scam for having a BBQ?

Jimmy Hyams deserves some blame for his terrible interview timing. Thanks for blowing up the program Jimmy!

JenB (Inactive) writes:

I hope the next coach (and Players) dont end up having to pay for all the violations that he commited while he was here.
I am wondering though, how is he such a great coach when he commited MANY MANY MANY NCAA violations? Then AFTER he got caught, he commited MORE? That doesnt sound like a great coach to me. If that was at another school, we would all be talking phooey about that coach and how he cheated and there should be punishments. But because its here, its ok? Im not thinking so. I say for UT to be the best, they need to make sure they are keeping REAL good coaches that follow rules, and getting rid of the ones who dont.

Also Regarding (hcjournals#206623) - "Integrity and honesty are paramount. We live by that. But we also live in a country that allows for mistakes. Bruce Pearl made mistakes and asked for forgiveness. We let him down." - Yes, he made mistakes, yes he cried and asked forgiveness, yes we forgave and didnt fire then (did NOT let him down), and YES, he went and did it AGAIN!!!
First time, shame on you... second time, shame on us, there should never be a third time!

1vavolfan writes:

Thad Matta gave the NCAA about 3 inches of rope and Bruce Pearl managed to hang himself with it. I dont think I have ever sen a leader in any industry mishandle a situation like Bruce Pearl did. From the minute the NCAA showed up until he got fired he made the wrong moves at every step.

VolQB writes:

Very good article. I do not think the violations rise to the level of being fired. Very harsh decision considering Pearls good reasoning of what he has done for the program and community.

Did NCAA directly have something to do with the decision? Hope not. As normal, the media were the first on the scene. They were not reporting facts they were stoning Pearl.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Good points VolQB...I mean Peyton....

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to A_Voice_ofReason:

HEY WITCH NURSE, WHERE ARE YOU?!?! SEEMS LIKE THIS ARTICLE SUMS UP WHAT I'VE BEEN TELLING YOU FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS. FUNNY HOW THE ARTICLE SAYS THAT EXACT SAME THING IVE BEEN SAYING AND THAT IS PEARL HAS BEEN SHAFTING THIS PROGRAM WITH UNETHICAL PRACTICES FOR YEARS.

I'LL ALSO TELL YOU THAT PEARL REALLY SHOWED HIS COLORS WHEN HE MET WITH HAMILTON ON MONDAY! LOOK BACK AT MY POSTS FROM EARLIER IN THE WEEK WHERE AGAIN I TOLD YOU WHAT WOULD HAPPEN!!!!! PEARL MET WITH HAMILTON AND PEARL MAD AN ARSE OF HIMSELF. POOR PEARLY WAS UPSET OVER MONEY!!!! HE DIDNT GET NEAR WHAT HE THOUGHT HE "DESERVED", AND EVEN PROTESTED BY HANGING AROUND THE BASKETBALL COMPLEX MOST OF THE DAY.

YOUR SAVIOR IS GOING TO LEAVE UT IN SHAMBLES, AND FOR THE BONEHEAD THAT SAID THIS SITUATION WON'T BE AS BAD AS INDIANA'S YEARS BACK HE'S RIGHT.....IT WILL BE WORSE!

PREPARE FOR THE NCAA TO HAND IT TO THE VOLS, AND DON'T EXPECT PEARL TO EVER COACH AT THE BIG TIME LEVEL AGAIN. HE'S A SHAM (AGAIN, AS I'VE BEEN TELLING YOU ALL ALONG).

Witch Doctor say thanks for proving my voodoo strong and keeps you thinking and worrying about Witch Doctor.
Bones never lie.

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