KNOXVILLE — Bruce Pearl has no plans of appealing the three-year show-cause letter he received from the NCAA on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean the former University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach agrees with the length of the penalty.
By prohibiting Pearl from any recruiting, the show-cause effectively banishes Pearl from coaching an NCAA member institution for three years. Any school wanting to hire him would have to accept the restrictions on him or appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions to contest them.
“These mistakes that were made were made by myself, and I take responsibility for them,” Pearl said at a news conference at his Knoxville home. “I’m fully accountable for them, and obviously we paid a very, very heavy price for the mistakes that we’ve made. I’m trying to do the very best I can to lead through this adversity to be an example of what happens when you aren’t forthcoming and you don’t tell the truth all the time and be acceptable of the consequences.
“That said, I am disappointed with the length of the show-cause. For 33 years I’ve been on college campuses trying to make a difference in young people’s lives. It’s really difficult for me to get my arms around the fact that for the next three years I won’t be.”
Pearl lied to NCAA investigators last June about the location of a picture with him and a high school junior at his house in September 2008 and failed to protect the integrity of the investigation by speaking with the recruit’s father.
The NCAA labeled a “bump” violation committed by Pearl and former associate head coach Tony Jones last September as a major violation in the Notice of Allegations sent to UT in February, but it was not mentioned in the NCAA’s report Wednesday.
According to Pearl, Jordan Adams, then a junior at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, approached him and Jones with concerns about the NCAA investigation, and the conversation lasted no longer than 30 seconds with Pearl making attempts to cut it short. Coaches aren’t allowed to make off-campus contact with juniors.
“The fact that we were charged at that time obviously cost us our jobs in addition to things that we had already done,” Pearl said. “These things took a cumulative effect. It was my hope that we could have survived. When I was charged with a major violation, and the timing of that charge came in conjunction with a board of trustees meeting down in Chattanooga, there was some concern. I knew what happened at Oak Hill: We did not put ourselves in a position to have a violation.”
Pearl is still considering an offer from the Dallas Mavericks to coach the Texas Legends, the organization’s NBA Development League team. He said he and his family are “dug in here” in Knoxville, with son Steven and daughter Jacqui as UT graduates working in Knoxville and two younger children still in high school.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...