Pearl Somehow Survives

Let me start by saying I really like Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl. I love his energy and enthusiasm. I love his personality during interviews and I respect the success he has had (126-46) in his five years on Rocky Top.

That said, I am a little perplexed as to why Pearl still has his job in Knoxville. Pearl and his staff lied to NCAA about a pattern of excessive phone calls to prospective student-athletes. His punishment, as meted out by Vols athletic director Mike Hamilton is significant recruiting restrictions, a 25 percent pay cut (about $300k/year) and ineligibility for an agreed upon $500k retention bonus in 2012.

Those are significant penalties to be sure, though Hamilton admitted to the Knoxville News Sentinel that what the Vols self-imposed will not necessarily satisfy the NCAA.

"It could be that more penalties will be levied against us," Hamilton said. "We certainly hope we have taken very strong action that will be viewed in the right way, (and hopefully) substantially enough to justify (the NCAA) not doing any more. There are no guarantees."

For his part Pearl sounded contrite in a news conference acknowledging his wrongdoing and dishonesty.

"I should have been completely honest, and had I done that the severity of these penalties would have been considerably less," Pearl said. "It's not so much what we did. The worst thing was how we handled it."

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Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant lost all of last season for lying to NCAA investigators about his friendship with Deion Sanders even though there was no evidence he received anything of value from the relationship. If a student-athlete – a kid by comparison – loses a year for lying, how can the punishment against a coach be less? Yes, he does "lose" $2 million over the next five years, but he still stands to make $6 million.

The NCAA cannot punish Pearl more severely than Tennessee did except by possibly adding to the recruiting restrictions and taking scholarships from the Vols program. Still the world of college sports does not do itself proud when student-athletes pay a more severe price for violations than the alleged grownups that make a living off the kids' efforts.


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