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UT Responds To Pearl’s Suspension

Associate head coach Tony Jones will take over head coaching duties during Tennessee’s first 8 SEC games of the season.  Tennessee made that announcement today.

The Vol athletic department also released the following statement from athletic director Mike Hamilton and chancellor Jimmy Cheek:

“While disappointed in the severity of commissioner Slive’s additional punishment, we respect that he is acting on the authority that the league’s athletic directors, presidents, and chancellors granted him earlier this year to address matters of this nature.

“As we move forward, we are hopeful the Tennessee family will now rally behind Coach Pearl, his staff and particularly our student-athletes as they focus on the 2010-11 season, and we advance toward bringing this matter to conclusion over the next several months.”

The NCAA is expected to turn over its findings to Tennessee next month.  People inside the athletic department believe that no new dirt has been found and that Pearl’s cover-up is still a greater sin than his rules violations.

For Jones, he could be getting some on-the-job training that might come in handy next season.  Considering how seriously the NCAA takes lying to its investigators, there’s a chance Pearl could be suspended for a substantial period of time in 2011-12.

If that’s the case, Hamilton has made it clear that Pearl will remain UT’s coach and the Vols will be led by an interim coach.  That coach would likely be Jones… if he avoids an NCAA suspension of his own.  Remember, UT’s assistants were punished by Tennessee for their involvement in the Vols’ rules violations.

Two quick sidenotes –

1.  Pearl will miss Tennessee’s games: at Arkansas, vs Florida, vs Vanderbilt, at Georgia, versus LSU, at Ole Miss, at Auburn and vs Alabama.  It appears as though Pearl can coach on January 22nd against non-conference foe UConn.  (Whaddya think the press will talk about leading up to that Pearl versus Jim Calhoun matchup?)

2.  It’s possible that Slive’s punishment could actually work in Pearl’s favor.  If the NCAA decides to suspend Pearl in 2011-12 for any length of time, it could shorten its suspension by 8 games and consider it “time served.”  We’re a long way from finding out just what the NCAA will do, but it’s important to keep all possibilities in mind.


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