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Smokescreen And Spin Continue To Seep Out Regarding Pearl’s Ouster

Mike Griffith of The Knoxville News Sentinel writes today that former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl “didn’t have direct involvement in the final secondary violation that led to his firing on March 21.”

The Sentinel got the information from UT via a public records request.  According to the paper, Pearl’s director of basketball operations Ken Johnson provided two tickets to the mother of a current Tennessee player for the regular-season finale against Kentucky.  UT had already handed out its allotted tickets, which made Johnson’s act a secondary violation.

UT’s report to the NCAA on the matter states, “None of the coaches were aware that Ken was going to provide (the player) with tickets.”

The comment boxes under the story on The Sentinel’s website show that the writer of the story accomplished his goal — Vol fans are further outraged that their coach was ousted for such a small violation.

Unfortunately, that’s not why Pearl was actually given the boot. 

As we’ve noted a few hundred times on this site, Pearl committed several violations that would have likely been considered secondary in nature… had he and his assistants not lied directly to NCAA investigators.  On top of those lies, Pearl then called the father of a recruit involved in one of the violations and — according to the father — tried to influence what he said to the NCAA.

For that reason, Pearl is likely looking at at least a one-year suspension from coaching, probably more.

Tennessee’s ex-coach was an incredibly successful and popular man in Knoxville.  The majority of Vol fans — judging from what talk radio hosts and internet polls have told me — are still angry about his firing.  So now that a writer has chummed the water, it’s no surprise that a feeding frenzy has followed.

But in this case, the sharks are feasting on the wrong food supply. 

Pearl was fired because he’d buried himself by violating the NCAA’s A-1 top-flight rule: Thou shalt not lie to investigators.  And then he tried to cover his tracks further, which violated the NCAA’s #2 rule.

The final secondary violation — committed by one of Pearl’s staff members… under the head coach’s watch — was simply a final straw.  In reality, it was mere lubricant for the wheels of change which were already spinning.

Tennessee wanted to save itself from a massive NCAA spanking.  UT officials felt the program would have a better chance of avoiding said spanking if it canned Pearl.  So they moved.

And no amount of spin can change that.


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