In an interview with Jimmy Hyams that will air on The Sports Animal just after 3:00 PM EDT today, it's being reported that Mike Hamilton will reveal that Bruce Pearl's bump violation - which came just four days after the initial, tearful press conference that first revealed the NCAA investigation - was never reported back to the University of Tennessee. Hamilton apparently found out about the violation when the NCAA told him about it in November. This has been reported by John Pennington at MrSEC.com - you'll be able to listen live to the interview at The Sports Animal here.
UPDATE 3:31 PM EDT - Hamilton does not specifically address the bump violation in the interview, but WNML has a fantastic summary of the interview with several quotes, and they do also report that Pearl did not report the bump violation because he did not consider it to be a violation, and that Hamilton found out about it via the NCAA.
Here's what Hamilton will reportedly say in the pre-taped interview:
"We don’t know the answer today," the AD said when asked if Pearl will return. "We’ve done a lot of soul searching about the direction of our program and we’ll continue to do that and we’ll decide after we’re out of the NCAA Tournament what direction it is that we’re going to go next."
"We’re not going to finish our evaluation until after the season is over."
The bump violation came on September 14 at Oak Hill Academy - bump rule violations are common and often accidental, but the timing was obviously terrible, and the decision not to report it back to the university is a thousand times worse. Sounds familiar, right?
This makes the second instance of Pearl doing something that would've been considered a secondary violation, and making it much worse on himself either by directly lying about it, or choosing not to report it. Whatever support he had with Mike Hamilton - which appeared to be a considerable amount back in September - is certainly less now that this information has come to light.
Pearl's timing is awful, but so is Hamilton's.
Why on earth would you say this two days before the Vols play in the NCAA Tournament?
Even if Hamilton and the powers that be at Tennessee have already decided against Pearl for the future and plan on dismissing him as soon as the Vols lose their next game, what possible good does it do to bring this up today? You're not jumping the gun on any coaching hires, because the vast majority of those never happen before the second weekend of the tournament. If you've had this information since November, why today?
Does Tennessee go into the tournament now thinking they have to win x number of games to save Pearl's job? What would that take? Beating Duke? Making the Final Four? And why would you want to put this roller coaster team through something like this now?
This also raises another question: if Hamilton found out about this in November, did he say something to Pearl about the situation that affected the team's performance after the Pitt game in early December? That's all speculation, but would certainly answer some questions about Tennessee's play and motivation.
To one of John Pennington's points, if Hamilton has allowed "media backlash" against the program to affect his stance on Pearl, I have serious reservations about his leadership. You can't make decisions based on what the media says.
The larger fate of Bruce Pearl and the program will be determined later, and this information doesn't help his case at all - but this week is about this tournament, and Tennessee is in it. That should be the story. This is not good news for Pearl, and will certainly factor in to the university's (and the NCAA's) decisions. And all rightfully so, and all Pearl's fault.
But why would Hamilton say so today?