Bruce Pearl responds to 8-game suspension

By: Wes Boling Email
By: Wes Boling Email

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WVLT) -- The Southeastern Conference has suspended Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl from all team activities for the first eight conference games, beginning Jan. 8 and extending through Feb. 5.

The suspension prevents Pearl from being involved in any team activities, including practice, on the day of a game, according to a press release sent Friday from the office of SEC commissioner Mike Slive.

Pearl will be able to prepare his team for the games, but will not be able to participate in gameday activities.

The punishment is a result of Pearl's September admission that he misled NCAA investigators this past summer.

Slive said he felt Pearl's infractions could have warranted a season-long suspension, but "the fact that he owned up to what he did I felt half a season was appropriate."

Associate head coach Tony Jones will coach the team in Pearl's absence. Slive said that currently he is not planning on imposing penalties against any assistant coaches, adding that "he considered action against assitant coaches but Pearl is in part responsible for their behavior."

"I have great respect for Commissioner Slive," Pearl said in a press conference Friday. "He's got experience in these matters.

"These penalties are directed at me based on the things I've done. I've made these mistakes, and these are the results. I'm appreciative of the support I've received from the University. It is our intention to overcome this adversity, and it is my anticipation that we will."

Pearl said he was not blindsided by the punishment, citing a conversation with Slive during SEC Basketball Media Day.

Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said in the press conference that he hopes the SEC's suspension of Pearl will have a mitigating effect on the NCAA's ultimate decision whether to impose additional punishment.

"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 his nature,'' UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in a prepared statement.

"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.'

Slive formally informed the University of his intention to consider imposing additional punishment in a Nov. 3 letter. He invited UT officials to respond by Nov. 11 with evidence of their self-imposed punishment.

Hamilton responded to Slive on Nov. 9 with a four-page letter contending that UT's self-imposed punishment of Pearl was adequate and did not need to be compounded by the conference.

Hamilton argued that the salary reduction imposed on Pearl of $1.5 million over five years, along with severe recruiting limitations, was appropriate punishment.

"The University...believes that it has taken appropriate disciplinary action against Coach Pearl and respectfully requests that you concur in its judgment in this case," Hamilton wrote in the letter.

Chancellor Jimmy Cheek echoed his previous message of support for Pearl, indicating that the SEC's punishment in no way affects the coach's job security.

"Bruce is our coach, and he's going to be our coach for many years," Cheek said in the press conference. "We're going to get through this adversity."

Pearl will be suspended for the following games:

Jan. 8 - at Arkansas
Jan. 11 - vs. Florida
Jan. 15 - at Vanderbilt
Jan. 18 - at Georgia
Jan. 26 - vs. LSU
Jan. 29 - at Ole Miss
Feb. 3 - at Auburn
Feb. 5 - vs. Alabama


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  • by Reta Location: 37771 on Nov 22, 2010 at 10:48 AM
    Bruce Pearl did make serious mistakes and is paying the price. He has done so much for TN basketball & the community & it is appreciated. Now is the time for the real Bruce Pearl to stand up--all will see if honesty & integrity does prevail. He has the chance--it is up to him & I,for one, do expect he will do just fine.
  • by Nathaniel Location: Knoxville on Nov 21, 2010 at 07:55 PM
    Coaches have been fired or forced to resign for the same violations at other schools! UT needs to bring themselves up to the level of most other division one schools and quit this wrist slapping for everyone. Is it a stupid rule? Well, most NCAA rules may seem "stupid" to the common person. But, when you are dealing with recruiting high school kids and coaxing them to come to your school, there will be some rules. Some people need to look at some of the harsher punishments for doing very similar things that Pearl has done. How about a great example. Kelvin Sampson, a great college basketball coach was forced to resign by Indiana over, guess what? Recruiting violations that were unethical. They were phone calls! He was forced to quit over phone calls to recruits. No money scandal, no cheating on tests, no illegal gatherings. Phone calls. So, if you think rules are stupid, look at this man got ran out of the NCAA over making excessive phone calls when he wasn't supposed to.
  • by Patti Location: Rogersville on Nov 21, 2010 at 09:40 AM
    I am behind Coach Pearl 100%. I do feel that the punishment was a bit harsh for the infraction but it was an infraction and he did lie about it. Any of you holier than thou people who feel that Pearl should have been fired are the hypocrites. Because anyone who says that they have never lied especially to avoid getting in trouble is lying. I think that some things need to change at the NCAA rules level as the rule he broke was a stupid rule anyway.
  • by Bill Location: knoxville on Nov 20, 2010 at 09:13 PM
    I am sorry Mr. Slive only gave Mr. "Hypocrit Lying" Pearl a 8 game suspension. As the moral leader of the UT basketball team he has been slapped on the wrist. The man did the ssame thing at Wisc. GB and self reported. Now he has the gaul to say "Oh I forgot" that was an infraction or that I really kow about that incident but chose to lie. But this is the same man who allowed joy riding marijuana smoking players return to the team as a Christmas present not to mention that these guys also had 2 guns in the car w/o serial numbers. Mike Hamilton needs to elimenate the infections still on campus including the one the brought on the infections. The jury is still out on the new football coach who saw a player in jail this morning on a DUI charge.I hope the new President doesn't get mired in cow menure and not see the low depths to which MEN's Athletics has dropped to.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 20, 2010 at 01:53 PM
    Ya'll do not face the reality of the world, ya did the crime, ya gotta do the time!
  • by Gary Location: Knoxville on Nov 20, 2010 at 01:16 PM
    I just hope Bruce doesnt leave TN he makes basketball so exciting before Pearl I didnt care about basketball at UT But now I cant wait til the season starts again Bruce DONT LEAVE UT
  • by Nathaniel Location: Knoxville, TN on Nov 19, 2010 at 08:32 PM
    I find it amusing and funny that people think that this punishment is too harsh. The man is getting off easy. You can say all day, "well, everyone else is doing it or worse." Prove it. If they are, they will get caught and get punished. I'm amazed at the lack of severity of the punishment. UT was smart and self-imposed some sanctions to lighten the load before the NCAA came raining down. I'm amazed with the UT athletic program that the fans and team would rather hold on and defend the people that give it a bad name, rather than move on. Whether it's a football player kicking a cop in the head outside a bar, or 4 b-ball players with guns and drugs getting pulled over, or now the head basketball coach getting caught in a lie over recruiting violations and asking the people there to lie with him. Folks, that is pretty bad. Considering his lackluster legacy he has left at other places, UT would be better off without this shining "Pearl" that is dragging them to the bottom.
  • by bob Location: sevierville on Nov 19, 2010 at 08:20 PM
    He knowingly violated the rules, then he lied about it , maybe his sanctions aren't enough. Also in the next 5 years who is to say that they don't slip a couple of raise's in there.
  • by William on Nov 19, 2010 at 05:51 PM
    I'm so sick of you Pearl lovers not being real about what this punk did. No tell'n what he also did no1 knows of, he and Mikie need 2 go back north where they belong. Time 4 Pat S. 2 take over !!! GO LADY VOLS !!!!!
  • by howard Location: morristown,tn. on Nov 19, 2010 at 04:56 PM
    As a father and taxpayer in the Great State of Tennessee I find it very hard to accept that Mr. Pearl is still employed as a leader of young men at our precious namesake University. I don't know his background or family history but am intelligent enough to know that what he has displayed would have cost me my job, period! I'm ashamed of the people of Tennessee that say people make mistakes and take this lightly, people do make mistakes but lying and cheating are choices, not mistakes. I'm proud to say I have paid for higher education for my 3 children and my 22 year old baby will get his BS Degree in the spring of 2011 from another one of our great State Universities but I will not support the University of Tennessee in any way as long as people like Bruce Pearl are allowed to break important rules that this home grown Tennessee boy learned from honest and morally correct parents. God Bless my wonderful parents! Howard
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