Given that Pearl has lied before, then it does not stretch the imagination that he might have lied again.
According to CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy, junior Ohio guard DJ Cooper has told the network that two coaches contacted him after his freshman season and tried to lure him into a transfer. One coach was Baylor’s Scott Drew. The other was ex-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl.
In case you’re wondering — or haven’t been keeping up with the Vanderbilt v. Maryland case currently being hashed out by the ACC and SEC — it’s not kosher for the coach of one school to contact a player at another school in order to elicit a transfer. In fact, it’s a secondary NCAA violation (though it seems like player-poaching should land more in the “major” violation category).
Cooper was the MAC’s Freshman of the Year in 2010. After advancing to the Sweet Sixteen last night, the player revealed that Baylor and Tennessee came after him. (Maybe Baylor president Kenneth Starr can investigate those claims.)
Cooper’s parents — Donell and Dionne — backed up their son’s story and suggested a few more coaches contacted them as well. The father said Pearl “tried the hardest” to talk his son into leaving Ohio. But, “It’s hard to say how many there were contacting us. It was shocking to me that so many coaches would do that behind a school’s back.”
“It was surprising, being my first experience, that schools were wanting me to come play for their programs,” the younger Cooper said. He claimed that he never considered leaving the Bobcat program.
Baylor’s Drew told The New York Times last night that once Cooper signed with Ohio, “I never talked with the mom or the dad or DJ.”
This isn’t a concern for Tennessee moving forward as Pearl has already been dismissed for NCAA rules violations. The ex-coach — who’s actually a very good co-host on Sirius/XM radio — was hit with a three-year “show cause” penalty by the NCAA.
UPDATE — Jimmy Hyams of WNML-AM/FM in Knoxville has tweeted that Pearl — like Drew — denies the charge. Tennessee knocked Ohio from the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and Pearl claims he complimented Cooper after the game, but: “I never reached out to him, I never had contact with him or his family.”