Tennessee Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl continues to make headlines -- the kind he would like very much to avoid.
Dana O'Neil and Pat Forde have the story [Hat tip - Fanhouse]:
Kevin Fitzgerald, the compliance director at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee -- where Pearl previously coached -- confirmed that the university self-reported a violation on Aug. 19, 2004, after "Coach Pearl invited a [high schoo junior] prospect [and his parents] to his daughter's graduation party hosted at his house, a violation of 13.05.5.3."
It's hard to get too worked up about a secondary violation, but what this shows is that Pearl knew having recruits that were only juniors in high school over to his home while at Tennessee was a NCAA violation. He knew it and yet he did it anyway. This is likely to trouble the NCAA, who could have possibly been moved by the argument that the violations at Tennessee were inadvertent in nature.
I'm not sure how much more damage this does to Pearl, but if he told the NCAA he was unaware or forgot about the rule, it would be another case of obvious deception that could make staying at Tennessee impossible, making it easier for the NCAA to pull out the "show cause" penalty, and force Tennessee to get rid of him. This episode could potentially make that more likely, although if Pearl was up front about it (an iffy proposition given his situation), it could wind up being pretty much irrelevant. It was only a secondary violation after all.
More below the fold.
Marc Isenberg of Money Players has posted a piece he did for Basketball Times that is relevant to this situation, including some insights he got from Pearl during Pearl's visit to Israel this summer to coach the Maccabi USA team. That article in combination with some of the revelations coming out about Pearl start to paint a picture of an extremely paranoid person who holds a grudge.
Also, Pearl's motives regarding the Deon Thomas affair now seem to be purely self-motivated,not aimed at cleaning up college basketball. If he was such a good guy, he wouldn't have knowingly committed the same recruiting violations that could have arguably been inadvertent at Wisconsin-Milwaukee? Given the facts we know, Pearl appears to have been out for Pearl all along, and it is my opinion that he believes cheating is okay as long as you are convinced everyone else is doing it.
In further analysis of the UW-Milwaukee matter, Searching for Billy Edlin notes that getting the information from the UW-M staff was tantamount to pulling teeth -- out of an elephant:
While Fitzgerald commented simply to confirm that the school "self-reported the the violation on August 19, 2004," it seems like O'Neil and Forde got a lot of hang-ups and voice mail recordings over the past few days while trying to finalize this story.
Hmm. Well, Pearl won a lot at UW-M, and perhaps that is why they appear to be so fussy about the investigation into a six year-old secondary violation. To be fair, I can't really blame them. This is the kind of evidence that has the potential to be more prejudicial than probative.
You all remember Jemele Hill, right? She of the (paraphrase) "Kentucky fans would be fine with Charles Manson as coach as long as he won" comment? Jemele decides to jump into Bruce Pearl's case with both feet:
The NCAA should suspend Pearl from coaching for all of this season. Fair is fair. The NCAA sent the message that it doesn't tolerate deception from athletes by suspending Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant for much of the 2009 football season for lying to investigators. When asked by the NCAA, Bryant denied that he'd visited Deion Sanders' house, that he'd worked out with Sanders and that he'd had any interaction with agents. The NCAA ruled that he lied in his denials about the first two issues, and it didn't take several months to make that ruling and suspend the player.
Why should an exception be made for a coach?
I'm not a fan of Hill, but this is reasoning that Mr. Spock could appreciate. Why would a coach get away with less punishment than a player for the same violation? Perhaps Bryant wasn't contrite enough, or even at all. Perhaps the tears shed by Pearl (tears that now have a distinctly reptilian character, by the way) will move them to leniency.
Or perhaps the NCAA will just uncork a giant can of whoopass on the Tennessee coach and let the chips fall where they may.