Pearl calls text-message ban 'ridiculous'

Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl and Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt each used the word ``ridiculous'' to voice disapproval of NCAA Division I management council recommendation earlier this week to ban all text messages from coaches to recruits.

``I'm very much against the new legislation,'' Pearl said. ``If it's too much, which I suspect is the case, then limit some of it.''

Summitt didn't even know the council had voted to ban text messages and said some recruits are more comfortable communicating via electronic words.

Pearl agreed.

``A lot of young people like to communicate this way and some are better at communicating this way,'' Pearl said. ``What are they going to do next? Take away phone calls? Campus visits? Home visits?''

Summitt and Pearl felt a more appropriate action might have been to impose restrictions like the NCAA does for in-person visits and phone calls.

``You can monitor, control or limit text messages but don't eliminate them all together,'' Pearl said. ``That's ridiculous.''

Pearl said cutting off text communication could create other concerns and he suggested a compromise.

``If you don't penalize us when the kids transfer, then I have no problem with (banning text messaging),'' Pearl said. ``Kids make bad decisions because we don't get to know them well enough and they don't get to know us.

``Some phone calls give you the opportunity of a lifetime,'' Pearl said, referring to scholarships that provide not only a chance for an education but to play big-time sports. ``There's a better way to deal with text messaging than cutting it off.''

The NCAA's Student-Athlete Advisory Council, which represents college athletes, complained that text messages had become intrusive on the recruits' time and costly. Pearl said it isn't the first time the Student-Athlete Council had a poor suggestion, pointing to the 20-hour rule adopted in the 1990s.

He said limited practice time is the reason the USA basketball team can't beat international teams because ``U.S. players can't shoot, pass or dribble.''

Now, he's afraid, the coach and the recruit won't be allowed enough time to communicate so as to make a better college choice.


Pearl, who made $1.1 million last season (not counting bonuses) in the first year of his six-year, $7.8 million deal, will get an extension of an undetermined length, athletic director Mike Hamilton said.

But Hamilton still hasn't committed to redoing Pearl's package.

Pearl has a built-in raise of $100,000 for next year.

``We'll continue to discuss how we need to address (the pact) at is relates to the market value,'' Hamilton said. ``That's our commitment and we'll continue to do that.''

Hamilton might be waiting on the market value to subside. Florida hasn't announced the raise it will give two-time national champion coach Billy Donovan. Donovan makes $1.7 million but is expected to go to about $2.5 million annually.

Kentucky recently hired Billy Gillespie for $2.3 million a year.

Pearl is believed to be the third-highest paid coach in the SEC, but Hamilton said he also considers the national landscape when it comes to paying coaches.


Hamilton is in his fourth year as men's athletic director, and the men's program, despite success on the national level, still hasn't won an SEC championship.

``We've had a little bit of a drought on the SEC side of things,'' Hamilton said. ``Even though we haven't had the elusive SEC championship on the men's side since I've been AD, we've performed very well nationally.

``It's certainly an interesting proposition because we want to win SEC championships, but we've very committed to competing for national championships and having high finishes nationally.''

Hamilton hopes an upgrade in facilities will help.

``The next step in the process is to try to provide a no-excuses opportunity to go out and recruit the best student-athletes and give them support to go win those championships,'' he said.

Hamilton said each UT sport – men's and women's – has been in postseason play. With nine still competing, Hamilton said all 20 UT sports could make the postseason. All are ranked in the top 25, except for baseball.

Hamilton said he takes pride in the Lady Vols' accomplishments because ``I feel like I have some responsibility level for all of our sports.''

EXTRA POINTS: Hamilton said UT's allotment for the season-opening football game at California is about 10,000 and he expects to use them all. … Hamilton said the reason the athletic budget went up almost $9 million – it is $73.4 million this year – is because of the $10.9 million buyout of Action Sports Media and about $400,000 for scoreboards for softball and soccer. … Hamilton said construction for the basketball practice facility is about two weeks behind and the Thompson-Boling renovations are about one week behind. … Hamilton said he wants UT to host the men's Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament but insufficient hotel accommodations ``hurts us a little bit.'' You need five full-service motels within a certain range of the arena. UT has hosted the Sweet 16 in 1994 and 1999.

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