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Bruce Pearl Comes Clean: Tennessee Volunteers' Coach Stares at an Unclear Future

ST. LOUIS - MARCH 28:  Head coach Bruce Pearl of the Tennessee Volunteers reacts in the first half against the Michigan State Spartans during the midwest regional final of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Edward Jones Dome on March 28, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Jeremy Lookabaugh Correspondent INovember 9, 2016

Bruce Pearl's Wrongdoing

Bruce Pearl acknowledged publicly that he gave misleading information to the NCAA about possible violations during a 17-month investigation of his problem. 

An emotional Pearl apologized for his part in letting everybody down. He provided false information to the NCAA while being interviewed in June about allegations of excessive phone calls made to recruits.

Pearl notified officials three weeks later that that he provided the NCAA incorrect information. 

"I've made some serious mistakes, and for that I am truly sorry," Pearl said at a news conference. "I provided incorrect and misleading information to the NCAA. I've learned some invaluable lessons. After I provided the false and misleading information, subsequently I went back and corrected the record."

Pearl made his announcement 24 hours after Tennessee received a letter from the NCAA notifying the University of an official investigation into the entire athletic department. 

"People make mistakes, and we all make them," Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton said. "I've made them, I've made plenty. Bruce made one mistake in this incident, and he came forward to correct it. I'm glad he's our basketball coach."

 

Tennessee as a Basketball Powerhouse 

Pearl has guided the University of Tennessee basketball program into some unprecedented heights. 

In 2010, Pearl managed to guide the Vols into the Elite Eight for the first time in the program's history. 

The Vols' program had the most successful five-year stretch while Pearl was in Knoxville. During that span, Pearl's Vols have never failed to reach the 20-win plateau, or to make the NCAA Tournament. 

Tennessee is the SEC's most successful program in the last five years, the Vols won the 2008 regular-season SEC championship, claimed three SEC Eastern Division Championships, and earned the school's first-ever No. 1 national ranking. 

Pearl is one of only six active coaches with 10 or more NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances to his credit, joining Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun, and Mike Krzyzewski. 

He is 126-45 in five years in Knoxville, after leading UW-Milwaukee to an 86-34 record in four years, including NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2005.

 

Future as a Volunteer 

Tennessee announced that Pearl will lose $1.5 million in salary over the next five years and be banned from off-campus recruiting from Sept 24, 2010 to Sept 23, 2011 as part of self-imposed penalties.

Pearl has put the Tennessee men's basketball program on the map. The University was known for its women's basketball team with Pat Summitt as coach, and in the '90s, it was football with Phil Fulmer. 

But if Tennessee is to fire Pearl it will come at a steep price. According to ESPN.com, Pearl cannot be fired without compensation until there is an NCAA finding.

It would also have to be determined that Pearl knowingly committed "significant" NCAA violations. 

The review of the contract revealed that the clause would protect Pearl unless Tennessee is willing to buyout his contract.

An NCAA finding likely wouldn't come until the end of the 2011 season, at the earliest.

 

Conclusion 

Bruce Pearl's job as head coach for the University of Tennessee Men's Basketball team is safe for now, and for foreseeable future. 

The Vols preach about wanting to win, not by cheating, but what else can they do?

Pearl is safe, unless they want to spend a ton of money letting him go. Pearl is a Vol, at least until the end of his contract. 

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