Mike Strange: Bruce Pearl watched Haith verdict with interest but little comment

In this Feb. 14, 2009, photo, former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl directs players against Vanderbilt during a game at Thompson Boling Arena on Saturday. Tennessee won the game 69-50. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel

In this Feb. 14, 2009, photo, former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl directs players against Vanderbilt during a game at Thompson Boling Arena on Saturday. Tennessee won the game 69-50. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel)

I caught up with Bruce Pearl in an airport Wednesday. I figured he might have something to say about Frank Haith’s wrist slap from the NCAA.

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Comments » 16

Slats writes:

The NCAA is a cancer that has inflicted considerable damage to the word of equality and fairness!!

chrisvol95 writes:

Coach Pearl was screwed by the university and the NCAA, and for why I will never understand

willphill#241787 writes:

A weak and clueless president, a feckless disloyal chancellor and a totally inept athletic director all contributed to Tennessee losing the best basketball coach it ever had.

allvol8 writes:

in response to willphill#241787:

A weak and clueless president, a feckless disloyal chancellor and a totally inept athletic director all contributed to Tennessee losing the best basketball coach it ever had.

Don't forget Pearl himself.. He chose to lie to the NCAA.

TommyJack writes:

in response to allvol8:

Don't forget Pearl himself.. He chose to lie to the NCAA.

Punishment didn't fit the crime. NCAA is corrupt to the core. Bruce still da man.

recoshop#1422330 writes:

Cheaters gonna cheat.

johndavid writes:

They were advised to take the 5th , the way I understand it the coaches never said no it wasn't my house. They were all protecting each other over something very minor that they were ambushed with. The NCAA lied to them as well. Neither side was 100% forthcoming in their initial meeting. They played the entrapment game and sought to find reasons to punish more than the minor violation they came for.

underthehill writes:

in response to johndavid:

They were advised to take the 5th , the way I understand it the coaches never said no it wasn't my house. They were all protecting each other over something very minor that they were ambushed with. The NCAA lied to them as well. Neither side was 100% forthcoming in their initial meeting. They played the entrapment game and sought to find reasons to punish more than the minor violation they came for.

Well stated..seemed obvious they had been after Pearl a long time and took advantage of the chance to nail him..no fair minded agency would act in this manner..

bUTch__please writes:

Coach Pearl had a secondary violation at Milwaukee involving a recruit ineligible for visitation due to his class. Craft was ineligible to visit the cookout because of his class. Once a coach has been cited for a secondary violation, the repeat violation can be upgraded to a major violation. THAT is why Coach Pearl, his staff and the University freaked out. Coach Pearl attempted to convince Craft's dad to lie about the visit, then attempted to stonewall information about the visit because he was caught in a major (by rule) violation.

Like Strange mentions this was a different time in 2A enforcement before Penn St and the Cam Newton/UM f-ups. This was the main feature, up front and center. Slive, with links back to the University of Illinois incident, jumped in with both feet to smack Coach Pearl. The push-down on Pearls bball program helping Slives pet mildcats was just icing on the financial cake. Hamilton was always a front man to do the bidding of the boosters, so when the heat came up in the kitchen it was easier, truthfully more prudent, to throw Coach Pearl off the Big Orange bus and line back up with the Birmingham office and nervous Haslams.

Coach Pearl has alluded to the visit as being a set-up but has kept his mouth shut on the entire topic, for fear of being blackballed again, as well as reducing baggage for the next AD who considers hiring him.

Zo VOLS!

johndavid writes:

in response to bUTch__please:

Coach Pearl had a secondary violation at Milwaukee involving a recruit ineligible for visitation due to his class. Craft was ineligible to visit the cookout because of his class. Once a coach has been cited for a secondary violation, the repeat violation can be upgraded to a major violation. THAT is why Coach Pearl, his staff and the University freaked out. Coach Pearl attempted to convince Craft's dad to lie about the visit, then attempted to stonewall information about the visit because he was caught in a major (by rule) violation.

Like Strange mentions this was a different time in 2A enforcement before Penn St and the Cam Newton/UM f-ups. This was the main feature, up front and center. Slive, with links back to the University of Illinois incident, jumped in with both feet to smack Coach Pearl. The push-down on Pearls bball program helping Slives pet mildcats was just icing on the financial cake. Hamilton was always a front man to do the bidding of the boosters, so when the heat came up in the kitchen it was easier, truthfully more prudent, to throw Coach Pearl off the Big Orange bus and line back up with the Birmingham office and nervous Haslams.

Coach Pearl has alluded to the visit as being a set-up but has kept his mouth shut on the entire topic, for fear of being blackballed again, as well as reducing baggage for the next AD who considers hiring him.

Zo VOLS!

2ND PARAGRAPH right on , 1st one ? I don't think anybody thinks Pearl would have gotten more than a slap on the wrist for a commitment being at a team function. It's not fair to Punish Pearl more or hold him to a higher standard because he turned Illinois in. He wasn't buying recruits and in to major rule violations. He was driving 65 in a 55 not 3RD DUI / HIT & run!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to johndavid:

2ND PARAGRAPH right on , 1st one ? I don't think anybody thinks Pearl would have gotten more than a slap on the wrist for a commitment being at a team function. It's not fair to Punish Pearl more or hold him to a higher standard because he turned Illinois in. He wasn't buying recruits and in to major rule violations. He was driving 65 in a 55 not 3RD DUI / HIT & run!

I agree with the general intent of your comment, which is that the punishment was far too excessive for the crime, especially in view of the recent incidents. However, the recruits were not at a "team" function, it was a small gathering of a couple of recruits and family members, and while that may not be MUCH of an infraction under the rules at the time, it WAS an infraction.

Also, while it may not be "fair" for the NCAA to hold a grudge against Pearl for the Illinois incident, the long reach and "get tough" attitude prevalent in the NCAA then gave ample scope for well-connected individuals to pursue their personal vendettas under color of NCAA authority. It was that arrogance and overreach that led to the botched Miami investigation and the subsequent precipitous decline of the NCAA's "moral" authority. As Mike suggested, the NCAA could begin to make some recompense to Pearl by lifting the "show-cause" order NOW, but I won't hold my breath.

Ironically, it seems in retrospect that Pearl was just about the least blame-worthy person in the whole incident--as I heard it, the recruits just showed up at his door; it was a completely impromptu gathering as far as Pearl knew--minus the lying of course. The university administration certainly looks spineless and duplicitous in its handling of that incident now.

OrangePride writes:

The NCAA enforcement bunch has made themselves into a complete set of jerks IMO. They are beyond inconsistent. "Inconsistent" does not suggest bias and self-serving and corrupt. Putting the Pearl punishment to the side (which was WAY over the top in terms of severity for the crime), you have an institution that participated in both pay, party-girls, cover-ups and story changes from most involved, and we arrive at some scholarship loss and 5 meaningless game suspension. Miami could legitimately have gotten the Death Penalty like SMU years back. But AT LEAST, the coach gets a show cause and the institution some major penalties...but no, let's just hammer the beans out of Tennessee and set the example. Total joke. It's really time to organize a new oversight group and just dump the NCAA all together.

jmaples54 writes:

along with the baseball coach hiring, the bruce pearl betrayal will go down in vol history as 2 of the worst screw-ups by the worst athletic director in UT history, mike Hamilton. what a disgrace. even worse was his million-dollar parachute.

folks, the incompetence has not been entirely flushed. those who approved the "retirement" settlement for Hamilton are still in power.

OrangePride writes:

in response to jmaples54:

along with the baseball coach hiring, the bruce pearl betrayal will go down in vol history as 2 of the worst screw-ups by the worst athletic director in UT history, mike Hamilton. what a disgrace. even worse was his million-dollar parachute.

folks, the incompetence has not been entirely flushed. those who approved the "retirement" settlement for Hamilton are still in power.

Can't disagree with you that the bb coach hiring and the way in which the Pearl matter was handled go into the record book as perhaps some of the most botched in Tennessee history. And yes, the fact that Hamilton was given a 7 figure golden parachute was scandalous as well. But in all of this, I don't think Jimmy Cheeks can walk away without a good deal of the blame falling on him......at least as far as Pearl and the buyout are concerned. I love my university, but sorry, still not thrilled with that office.

halhhaynes#364264 writes:

Bruce Pearl was thrown to the wolves by Hamilton, Cheek and Slive. This could not possibly be because UT was experiencing it's greatest basketball success of all time? Slive strikes me as a guy who will do anything to promote Alabama football and Kentucky basketball. Anybody else in the conference should take a number. But in the end, UT will never have a coach like Pearl again and I predict he will one day end up somewhere with championships to follow. I find this all very sad.

fannotsheep writes:

in response to allvol8:

Don't forget Pearl himself.. He chose to lie to the NCAA.

Must be awesome being perfect. Exclusive club, that. Just Jesus Christ and you.

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