(UNDATED) -- Statement from University of Tennessee Director of Athletics Mike Hamilton:
Today, we are announcing that we have reached an agreement with Bruce Pearl that will result in him and his immediate staff being relieved of their duties with the University of Tennessee men’s basketball program. This is a difficult day for many obvious reasons.
Six years ago, Bruce Pearl arrived on our campus and renewed hope in Tennessee Basketball. He, his staff, and our student-athletes have allowed us as administrators and fans to enjoy unprecedented success and many victories during that time. He has become a friend to many and has done tremendous work in our community.
Upon receipt of our NCAA Letter of Inquiry in September, we made the difficult decision to forego common national opinion and forge ahead with Bruce and his staff pending any further major infractions or issues that would preclude our basketball program from representing the University of Tennessee in the right manner.
The months that followed have been difficult on everyone – our staff, our coaches, our administration, our fans and, certainly, our young men. During this time, the dynamics of our case with the NCAA have evolved further, including additional violations committed on September 14 and in March 2011. The cumulative effect of the evolution of the investigation combined with a number of more recent non-NCAA-related incidents have led to a belief that this staff cannot be viable at Tennessee in the future. Therefore, it is in the best interests of our institution to move in a different direction.
We have included separation terms that will detail more clearly our role in the transition for Coach Pearl and his assistant coaches. In the meantime, we have named native Tennessean and a former head coach, Houston Fancher, as interim coach during our hiring process.
Our search process will begin immediately. This is a great job and will attract a significant number of interested coaches. Much of that interest is a tribute to what Coach Pearl has helped to build, but more importantly, what our fans have built. We will take an appropriate amount of time, but will move as swiftly as is effective to bring this to conclusion.
Lastly, I want to apologize to our fans for my untimely comments prior to last week's NCAA appearance. While my comments were never intended for harm, they became an unneeded distraction to what has already been a year of distractions.
Terms of Agreement
• Head men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl will be paid at his current salary rate through June 30, 2011. He will also receive $50,000 per month for 12 months, from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012, and will also receive health insurance costs. This cumulative figure is $948,728.
• Additionally, the men’s basketball coaching staff will each be paid at their current salary rate through July 31, 2011.
Statement from University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek:
In September, I said that Bruce Pearl was our coach and I expected him to be our coach for a long time.
I am disappointed with the events that have brought us to this point today, events that I would call “the cumulative effect of evolving circumstances.”
Since our September news conference, several instances have occurred that have caused us to change our position, as indicated in Mike’s comments.
I care about Coach Pearl and his family. I appreciate the job that he has done at Tennessee.
From the University’s perspective, this decision is an institutional decision, with counsel and input from many who know and love this university.
Mike Hamilton has kept me informed throughout the past weeks and I have been involved and engaged in the entire process.
I have kept the University of Tennessee system President informed, and he fully supports the steps that Mike and I have taken. The President, in turn, has communicated with the Board of Trustees.
I have personally stayed in contact with the Board of Trustees Vice-Chair, Jim Murphy.
Our job in administration is to weigh all the issues and all of the inputs—sometimes including details we cannot share—and then make tough decisions. Our goal is to weigh all of the information and ultimately do what is in the best interest of the University of Tennessee.
Going forward, I am confident that Mike Hamilton will find the right coach who can build on the foundation created over the past several years.
Mike Hamilton has my support. I join him in looking forward to continued success.
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