Bruce Pearl suspended for first eight SEC games

Bruce Pearl suspended for first eight SEC games

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Tennessee men's head basketball coach Bruce Pearl Tennessee men's head basketball coach Bruce Pearl
Tennessee Athletics Director Mike Hamilton Tennessee Athletics Director Mike Hamilton

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Tennessee men's head basketball coach Bruce Pearl has been suspended for the first eight Southeastern Conference games of 2011 by conference Commissioner Mike Slive.

The decision was delivered to Pearl Thursday and made public by Tennessee and SEC officials Friday.

Tennessee Athletics Director Mike Hamilton said Friday Pearl and the school have known for a couple months that the commissioner was considering additional punishment against Pearl.

Slive's decision means Pearl will not be able to participate in team activities on the dates of the following games:

  • Jan. 8 - at Arkansas
  • Jan. 11 - vs. Florida
  • Jan. 15 - vs. Vanderbilt
  • Jan. 18. - at Georgia
  • Jan. 25 - vs. LSU
  • Jan. 29 - at Ole Miss
  • Feb. 3 - at Auburn
  • Feb. 5 - vs. Alabama

Pearl will not be allowed to participate in practices, meetings, pre-game and post-game activities, and the game itself on game day. Pearl said he understands Slive's decision to mean he can be involved in the preparation of games on other days during the suspension.

The violations that led to the suspension were discovered during an investigation by the NCAA into the Vols' men's basketball program.

The University of Tennessee received a letter of inquiry from NCAA officials on Sept. 10 informing the school that the basketball program was under investigation.

Pearl and his staff were accused of a variety of recruiting improprieties, including hosting recruits and their families at a party in his home, as well as misleading an NCAA investigation into the violations.

As a result, Tennessee penalized Pearl by docking $1.5 million from his pay and banning him from off-campus recruiting for a year.

"I am extremely disappointed in the nature of the violations involving Coach Pearl and the Tennessee men's basketball program," Slive is quoted in a statement released Friday. "The penalty applied to this circumstance is significant, which is consistent with the directive approved by the SEC membership in 2010 granting the Commissioner authority to act in such cases."

The school responded by issuing a joint statement from Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Hamilton, saying, "While disappointed in the severity of Commissioner Slive's additional punishment, we respect that he is acting on the authority that the league's athletic directors, presidents, and chancellors granted him earlier this year to address matters of this nature."

Tennessee's statement went on to ask fans to rally behind Pearl, and his staff and team, this season.

Hamilton said Slive had considered suspending Pearl for the entire season, but decided an eight-game suspension was sufficient.

The steps taken by Tennessee and the SEC do not preclude further action by the NCAA, but Hamilton said he's hopeful the punishment already handed down will show the NCAA the problem has been sufficiently dealt with.

Hamilton said he doesn't expect a long wait before the NCAA issues its ruling on the matter.

Pearl has been the men's head basketball coach at Tennessee since March 2005.

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