Showing he still has his sense of humor, ex-Tennessee hoops coach Bruce Pearl hosted a press conference today at his house. On the menu? Barbecue.
Pearl told the assembled media that he will not appeal the three-year show cause ban levied against him by the NCAA yesterday. He also said that he hopes the penalty will not prevent him from someday returning to the college game.
Additionally, he took responsibility for the rule violation that led to his cover-up that led to his downfall.
“I was in control of that situation, and I didn’t handle things right at my house. Had I been more forthcoming in my interview with the NCAA, we wouldn’t be here.”
However, Pearl also said that it’s obvious he didn’t get much credit for eventually going back to the NCAA to fess up. “I believe I should have gotten more credit for coming forward and telling the truth, but the damage that was done was too great.”
Like his ex-assistants and his ex-assistants’ attorney, Pearl made it clear that he was not pleased with the alleged bump violation that, in the end, was not found to be an issue.
“The timing of that charge led directly to the termination of my coaching staff. Our chancellor and our athletic director went on record as saying that supposed bump violation was the beginning of the end for me…
I waited a lifetime for a job like Tennessee… it was my hope our staff could have survived.”
It’s an unbelievably sad end for a coach who had done wonders to elevate the basketball reputation of the entire SEC. Pearl’s arrival in Knoxville happened to coincide with a dip in the fortunes of perennial league big dog, Kentucky. In other words, Pearl and UT helped fill an unusual void at or near the top of the SEC standings.
But ultimately, show cause penalties are death sentences. Do the research, you’ll find that the only survivors are from tiny schools or tiny non-revenue sports. There was no way for Pearl and his staff to survive at Tennessee.
Now the hope for Pearl is that he can return to coaching somewhere, someday. Most show cause victims do not. But because Pearl’s punishment had more to do with his cover-up than his crime, we believe it’s likely someone will give him another shot down the road.