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Pearl In Serious, Serious Trouble At Tennessee

The NCAA letter of allegations to Tennessee yesterday brought very few surprises:


* UT’s baseball program was not accused of any violations.

* Instead of handing UT a “failure to monitor” charge regarding football, the NCAA mailed one to Lane Kiffin instead.

* Bruce Pearl and Tony Jones were listed for a violation of the so-called “bump rule” for running into a recruit at Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy just four days after UT announced the program’s self-imposed penalties last September.


If anything, the surprises were mainly positive.  But re-reading the letter, it’s clear that the violation of the “bump rule” — usually a secondary violation — is a bigger deal than initially thought.  Why?  The NCAA listed that as one of the seven major violations Tennessee stands accused of.

The letter states that Pearl and Jones spoke with a recruit for “two to three minutes” at Oak Hill.  That’s a bit more than a bump.  Being that Pearl and UT officials had just finished coming clean and promising “never again,” NCAA officials are clearly of the opinion Pearl and his aide should have run screaming in the other direction when they accidentally (?) bumped into recruit Jordan Adams.  And the NCAA is right.

Everything else in the report was already known — Pearl misled NCAA investigators, he called a recruit’s father in the apparent hopes of getting him to aide in a cover-up of Pearl’s barbecue, the coach was hit with an unethical conduct charge.  Bad, bad and bad.

But all those “bads” could equal a worse. 

The day before UT’s allegations arrived, UConn received its penalties for basketball violations.  Former assistant Beau Archibald was hit with a two-year “show cause” penalty, which basically acts as a two-year ban from NCAA coaching.  (And that’s after Archibald lost his job at UConn, something that didn’t happen to Pearl at Tennessee.)  Head coach Jim Calhoun received only a three-game suspension by comparison.  Why the difference?  According to The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy, NCAA infractions committee chairman Dennis Thomas said that Archibald was found to have engaged in “unethical conduct.”

“Unethical conduct” charges are serious business.  As in death penalty serious.  ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil did the legwork yesterday to find that of the last 20 “unethical conduct” cases to go before the NCAA’s penalty panel, 19 resulted in at least a two-year show cause penalty.

Under such a penalty, Pearl would not only be banned from coaching at Tennessee for two years, but he couldn’t gain employment elsewhere without that new school going to the NCAA and making a darn good case to hire him.

As we’ve stated on numerous occasions, it’s not easy to predict which charges will stick and what penalties the NCAA will hand out to schools and individuals.  Trying to compare one school’s woes to another’s usually provides a poor road map of what to expect in the second school’s case.

But when 19 out of 20 unethical conduct charges result in a two-year show cause ban?  Well, I think Vol fans have a pretty strong indication of what Pearl is facing.

Of course, the NCAA could show lenience.  Pearl did serve an 8-game suspension.  It’s just that in cases of lying coaches, the NCAA has rarely shown lenience.  (And don’t expect Pearl’s salary reduction to count for much at all, by the way.)

At this point, it appears the questions we’ll be asking after Tennessee’s June date with the NCAA are these:


* Will the NCAA hand Pearl a one-year ban — rather than two — because of the 8-game suspension already served?

* Will Pearl resign?

* Will Tennessee fire him?  (They say they won’t now, but…)

* Will Tennessee try somehow to survive a multi-year suspension to Pearl?  (One year, maybe… more than one, near impossible.)

* Will athletic director Mike Hamilton be the man to pick Pearl’s replacement?

 


16 comments
Phil dangel
Phil dangel

I am a newcomer to this posting stuff and have a question.
If Tony Jones was part of the problem and broke the same rules as Bruce, why was he allowed to coach the team in
his absence and did not have to sit out as Forbes was?
Phil

rockyb
rockyb

Vols fail to make NCAA. UT turns down NIT, ending this painful season. Pearl does right thing and resigns after SEC tourney. UT fires Mike
Hamilton and makes Pat Summitt interim A.D. and she hires Pearl's replacement, hopefully a Derek Dooley-type that gets on with up-grading
the men's program. Pearl takes TV job for 2 years then re-surfaces at a San Diego State-type program and gets on with his career.

Vegas
Vegas

John,

Sadly, the Tennessee AD and Brent Hubbs is also reporting this nonsense -- that a show-cause order would not "apply" to Tennessee, under the ludicrous theory that a show-cause order only applies to schools other than the one the coach committed the violations for. It warrants it's own article.

Nashville Dawg Fan
Nashville Dawg Fan

How is it that supposedly knowledgeable sports bloggers continue to perpetuate this myth that Pearl faces a show-cause ban. That can ONLY happen if he is unemployed. The show cause ban prevents schools from hiring a coah without an exception from the COI. So basically, yeah, they can give him a show cause ban but since he is already employed, UT will not have to seek an exception. The NCAA absolutely cannot force a school to fire someone, so if they insitute a show cause ban and then try to make UT go to the COI for an exception, the NCAA is in effect firing Pearl on behalf of UT and that would not hold up in any federal court, particularly one in the state of Tennessee, where I imagine the lawsuit would be filed.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

FLathead...

Just to put your comments in perspective...

Nick Saban was photographed talking to Barry Sanders Jr. in his high school. Sanders' back was to the cell phone that snapped the picture. To my knowledge, Saban has not posed for photos with recruits during non-contact periods.

Saban's act might still be a secondary violation. Tennessee's would have been a secondary violation, too... had UT reported it and had Pearl not just made an apology for additional rules violations four days earlier.

I'm not saying Pearl should be hanged for violating the bump rule, but his situation and Saban's situation are very different.

Thanks for reading,
John

George
George

Well John, you left out part of this jewel, "Pearl misled NCAA investigators, he called a recruit’s father in the apparent hopes of getting him to aide in a cover-up", so the father thinks that is why he called. He has nothing to back it up other than he "thinks" that is why he called. Its in the report, but, why on earth would you report the facts. Nice, objective reporting on this one. How many of the Sports Source geniuses help you out with this one? Pearl pegged you as a clown early and it is obvious why.

hunter
hunter

More than time to finally get the cheaters. Pearl has past issues plus an overwhelming case against him at the moment. Fans don't look good when they say "the hell with y'all" rather than supporting the ethical thing to do. If Pearl isn't the poster child for holding coaches accountable, then the NCAA is a total sham.

BDog
BDog

Wow Big Orange, you are truly a southern fried idiot.

Guest
Guest

Phil I read where the the one you are asking about had already left the school and was no longer coaching. BigOrange very nice comment. Fighting to the death for Bruce huh. Trying to keep Bruce during than the more than likely ban for a year or two would be the death of Tn basketball.

Phil
Phil

John,
Just out of curiosity,do you know what punishment was received in the one unethical conduct case that didn't receive at least a two year show cause penalty?

Thanks

Guest
Guest

TJ was responsible for all of the phone calls. He stupidly used the ticket office phones. Hamilton wanted him fired when this broke. Pearl said no. Pearl runs the ship. Why? Cause Haslem says so. Any coincidence that Haslem's son, the Governor, was sitting behind Pearl at the Vanderbilt game? No. Hey John, until Big Jim wants him gone he is not going anywhere. You know that. But, Pearl will leave on his own. The way this has been mishandled and some locals have lost appreciation, I do not blame him. Look for him to end up at Cincinnati at some point. But, if Pearl wants the NBA he would be a head coach. Bank it.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Vegas...

I'm familiar with that idea and it's correct. The "show cause" penalty means a school has to show the NCAA why a coach is worthy of being hired in spite of his past violations.

But that's only semantics. The NCAA can hand out anything from a 3-game to a million-year suspension to Pearl. In other words, they can make the suspension so long that Tennessee would be forced to fire Pearl. At that point, they'd slap him with the show cause penalty.

So the question remains: How long will Tennessee be willing to go with an interim coach? Especially if the NCAA also penalizes Tony Jones and the current assistants... who were also named in the letter of allegations?

If the NCAA hands down anything more than a 1-year suspension, it would be tough -- you would think -- for UT to stand by Pearl.

But you never know. Either way, the 2-year show cause bans the NCAA has handed out for unethical conduct in the past still apply in terms of providing a blueprint for just how tough they may stand to hit Pearl. It doesn't have to be a "show cause" to earn 2 years off.

Thanks for reading,
John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Nashville Dawg Fan...

It's funny, I don't think I've ever fired off an ugly, insulting email to a person I've never met or had any correspondance with. I guess I just don't belong on this here internet.

If the NCAA hands Pearl a two-year suspension, the odds of Tennessee retaining him would be infinitesimally small. So UT would be forced to fire Pearl and then the NCAA would hit him with the show cause ban. Sorry I didn't write a couple of extra lines to spell that one out for you.

But let's see, I can go by the rulebook, past NCAA history (or even just put my trust in ESPN and SI columnists and their teams of editors, for that matter)... or I can go by what someone who refers to himself as "Nashville Dawg Fan" says in a smart aleck anonymous comment he left in a box that I provided for him.

I think I'll stick with what I wrote about the show cause penalty. If the NCAA wants Pearl out, it can suspend him for as long as it likes and force Tennessee's hand. Then comes the show cause penalty.

As always, thanks for reading,
John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

George...

Not sure how Pearl pegged me as a clown. In fact, I remember someone taking a column I wrote about his team to him -- a piece Vol fans were beating me up pretty good over (shock) -- and he said the article was dead-on accurate on a Knoxville radio station. Had to do with why his team took a nosedive to end the 07-08 season.

But back to your actual quotes:

"So the father thinks that is why he called. He has nothing to back it up other than he 'thinks' that is why he called. Its in the report, but, why on earth would you report the facts."

First, that's why we wrote the word "apparent" into the story. Second, we included every fact you just complained about.

Thanks for reading, though,
John

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Phil...

The exception was a Michigan grad assistant who had left the school and gotten out of coaching before the NCAA could throw the book at him.

It's in the O'Neil piece we linked to.

Thanks for reading,
John

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