Certainly I am biased. I will give you that right off the bat. Call me cynical, if you want. I can see no scenario, under which the University of Tennessee shows any integrity, where Bruce Pearl and Mike Hamilton are not terminated.
There wasn't a lot that we didn't already know:
- We knew about the phone calls, close to 100 of them stretching over multiple years. That's not exactly a time period that lends itself to the labels "brief", "accidental", or "oversight." They were either deliberate or there was a major breakdown in educating the staff, which is negligent at best.
- We knew about the barbecue at Pearl-manor that Aaron Craft, Ohio State's impressive freshman point guard, and potentially others "elected" (according to Bruce) to attend, despite the fact that high school Juniors are forbidden from attending events at off-campus locations. Bruce supposedly let them know that it was a rules violation for them to attend. There is no plea of ignorance in this case.
- We knew about the lie Bruce told to NCAA investigators when they came calling with a picture of him and Craft at the party. We even knew about Bruce's attempts to coax the Craft family into deliberately misleading NCAA investigators, reminding them that their actions were voluntary and were NCAA violations in an almost-blackmail-but-not-quite way that he probably honed back when he was at Iowa and trying to recruit Deon Thomas.
- We knew about the failures of Pearl's three assistants to comply with the NCAA investigation. Whether or not Pearl "coached" them to behave this way, we can only speculate. Certainly he set the tone with his own statements.
And as I said at the time all these issues arose, Pearl deserved termination. Of course, surprise of surprises, Tennessee stuck by their man, albeit at a slightly more favorable dollar figure. (Hey, the economy hasn't exactly been helping things. Kudos on the financial savvy there. Remind me though how this is punishment for the University?)
The announcement came the day before a press conference. What did we see but a teary-eyed Pearl, selling his shame for his actions to anyone who would buy it.
Boy did he sell it, and boy did people buy it. For NOT FOUR DAYS AFTER HIS CRY FESTIVAL DID BRUCE PEARL GO OUT AND COMMIT HIMSELF ANOTHER VIOLATION.
Remember, on September 9th, 2010, the University announced that Pearl's year long off-campus recruiting ban would not begin for two weeks. Why in the world wouldn't it start immediately?
The one new charge revealed in the notice of allegations was that Pearl and associate head coach Tony Jones were cited for a secondary violation of "bumping" 2012 recruit Jordan Adams (Lawrenceville, Ga.), on Sept. 14, 2010, during Adams' junior year when the two visited Adams at Oak Hill Academy.
According to the report, Pearl and Jones had a two-to-three-minute conversation with Adams prior to the start of basketball practice. The violation with Adams came shortly after Pearl and Tennessee held a news conference announcing the self-imposed penalties. Pearl was allowed to recruit on the road for two-plus weeks before he was shut down for a year on Sept. 24.
So the delay in Bruce Pearl's suspension lasted just long enough for him to make a quick trip to "bump" a prized recruit? That's some institutional control right there.
At the very least I'm expecting a "show cause" violation for Mr. Pearl when the NCAA hands out its penalties sometime after the June hearing. But then again, you already knew that. (Thanks to bloggywo for being on sign duty last night during the game)
Show me something, Tennessee. It is not too late to salvage some integrity from the situation. Fire Bruce Pearl. Fire Mike Hamilton, the person ultimately responsible for both Lane Kiffin and Bruce Pearl, and under whose watch came the latest stain on your athletics legacy. It starts at the top. Prove to the world that you aren't morally and ethically bankrupt. Do it before your hand is forced, in contrast with Pearl's decision to come back and tell the truth.