Pullen has missed the last three games – a loss to UNLV and victories over UMKC and North Florida – due to breaking NCAA rules for receipt of impermissible benefits on the purchase of clothing from a Manhattan department store.
After watching Friday's win over North Florida from the bleachers of Bramlage Coliseum, Pullen issued an apology to his teammates, coaches and fans for his "… lapse in judgment" and admitted to "… full responsibility for my actions. It was a bad decision but at the same time, I have to deal with it and move forward. It is a long season and we have a bright future ahead of us for the rest of this season."
Pullen, who leads the team with a 16.5 point per game scoring average, said it was the first time he had ever missed a basketball game since his freshman year in high school when he did not meet eligibility requirements.
Pullen wasn't with the team at all with the first two games, which included missing the UNLV game in the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
"I was back here in Manhattan, glued to a TV, cheering like I have never cheered before because I saw the effort and I saw how hard they worked. For them not knowing what was going on and not knowing the situation and what the outcome was going to be had to be hard on them.
I expected to play and they all expected me to play. For me not to show up to the game, I am not sure if it hurt them or not but I know it had to be tough."
While saying it was equally tough facing coach Frank Martin and his parents, Pullen said, "They both understood that I made a mistake and they understood that things like that happen. They also understood that I really did not try to (make a mistake). It is just something that I have to put past me. I cannot live in the past. I cannot live on what happened that day. We have a young team and we have to move forward. The guys in the locker room did a great job of not letting what happened affect them. The last three games, they went out and played their hearts out."
The lengths of Pullen's and Kelly's suspensions were based on guidelines established by the NCAA for extra-benefit violations.
Generally, if the value of the benefit received is between $100 and $300, the student-athlete must sit out 10 percent of the team's regularly-scheduled games in that season.
For an amount between $300 and $500, the penalty is 20 percent, and for benefits greater than $500 a student-athlete must miss 30 percent of the team's games.