Apparently Tennessee officials had a good reason for not self-reporting a bump rule violation that took place last September, just four days after a press conference announcing self-imposed penalties against Bruce Pearl… Pearl didn’t tell the school about the violation.
In an interview scheduled to run this afternoon on WNML-AM/FM in Knoxville, UT athletic director Mike Hamilton tells radio host Jimmy Hyams that the school found out about Pearl’s accidental bump with a recruit at Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy when the NCAA informed them of it in November.
At the time, Hamilton continued to say that Tennessee wanted to keep Pearl as its head coach even if the NCAA handed him a one-year suspension. But that support seems to be wavering.
“We don’t know the answer today,” the AD said when asked if Pearl will return. “We’ve done a lot of soul searching about the direction of our program and we’ll continue to do that and we’ll decide after we’re out of the NCAA Tournament what direction it is that we’re going to go next.”
“We’re not going to finish our evaluation until after the season is over.”
It’s possible that the media backlash against Pearl’s post-presser bump violation — as well as UT’s disappointing season — have eroded some of the coach’s base. He is still working without a contract at this time. Asked if Pearl is bothered by that fact, Hamilton said: “I’m sure he is. Absolutely. But he had a chance to have had a contract back in November and December and we just never got to the finish line. Now we’ve got to the point where we don’t feel like we can do that.”
As we said at the time, Pearl should have signed whatever contract UT placed before him. He was lucky to have a job. And after Tennessee and Hamilton took a beating in the national press for standing by him, it’s certainly understandable that they would be upset that he did not inform them of the bump rule violation… whether he viewed it to be a serious infraction or not.
The interview with Hamilton will run in the Knoxville market at 3pm ET. Our thanks to WNML for the heads-up. We’ll have more on MrSEC.com after the interview airs.
Here’s a link to the audio of the interview and a full story by Hyams.