This shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone who has followed NCAA basketball over the last year or so… Tennessee has finally decided it was time to end it’s relationship with men’s head basketball coach Bruce Pearl. Here are some of the details, as reported by espn.com:
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said in a statement released late Monday that school officials decided to dismiss Pearl, who has been charged by the NCAA with unethical conduct, after learning of additional violations committed on Sept. 14, 2010, and in March 2011.
Tennessee has agreed to pay Pearl $948,728 worth of salary and benefits as part of his dismissal agreement.
“Upon receipt of our NCAA Letter of Inquiry in September, we made the difficult decision to forgo common national opinion and forge ahead with Bruce and his staff pending any further major infractions or issues that would preclude our basketball program from representing the University of Tennessee in the right manner,” Hamilton said. “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.”
I don’t know about you, but a $950k settlement isn’t too shabby. Pearl was involved in some recruiting violations in 2010 that led to him being suspended from coaching the Volunteers for their first eight games of their SEC conference schedule. He reportedly lied to NCAA investigators regarding his inappropriate contact with recruits, which led to the suspensions (Pearl held a cookout at his house with high-school recruits in attendance. Not very smart, Bruce).
Per ESPN’s Andy Katz, Pearl was also involved in some other incidents that led to his dismissal, including a substance abuse violation by forward Brian Williams where he was suspended two games but was reported that Williams was out with a bad back.
It’s most likely going to be tough for Tennessee’s basketball program to recruit top talent to the university with the Pearl situation and possible NCAA sanctions that the program may incur. In my opinion I think the university should also look into replacing Mike Hamilton, as he hired Bruce Pearl and also Lane Kiffin, who had a messy exit to coach USC only a year after taking the Volunteers head football coach position.
Pearl has a career coaching record of 442-129, including stints at Division II Southern Indiana (231-46) and Milwaukee (86-38) before coming to Tennessee in 2005. He has led eight of his ten Div. I teams to the NCAA tournament, reaching the sweet sixteen three times with the Volunteers the Elite Eight in 2009-2010.