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Bruce Pearl suspended for first eight SEC games due to NCAA violations

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Well, so much for "this won't affect this season at all."

Gary Parrish at is reporting that Bruce Pearl will be suspended for half of Tennessee's SEC games this year.  This is a suspension coming from the Southeastern Conference, not the NCAA, which means Pearl will supposedly continue to coach the Vols between now and the SEC opener on January 8 at Arkansas.  The eight game suspension will run from January 8 through February 5, and includes at Arkansas, Florida, Vanderbilt, at Georgia, LSU, at Ole Miss, at Auburn, Alabama.  The Vols play Memphis in Knoxville on January 5; interestingly enough, Tennessee plays at UConn during the middle of this SEC suspension on January 22, a game in which Pearl would theoretically be allowed to coach in.

Some rapid fire observations include a question about whether or not the SEC (or any league) has been this proactive in a situation, suspending a head coach before the NCAA has their say.  And this is not a one or two game suspension, this is Mike Slive dropping the hammer.  I heard Josh Ward mention Tennessee's response from Mike Hamilton on Sports 180 (you can listen live to The Sports Animal here, I'll be on there at 1:45 PM EDT to talk about this) - we'll get this document up as soon as it makes its way online, but Hamilton's response included the phrase "disappointed" in relation to the SEC's response.  The Vols previously docked Pearl's salary $1.5 million dollars and took Pearl and his assistants off the road in recruiting up to one year.

Tennessee has a press conference scheduled for 12:30 PM EDT that you can also hear at The Sports Animal link above - we'll continue to update here. 

UPDATE 1:22 PM - The press conference wasn't carried live, but Matt Dixon, sports editor of The Daily Beacon, offered a few insights via twitter.  Pearl will coach the Vols against UConn in the middle of this suspension on January 22.  Mike Slive considered suspending Pearl for the entire SEC season, but took his admission of guilt into consideration.  The suspension will only cover gameday activities, so Pearl can still lead practices and meetings throughout the week.  We'll continue to update info as we get it.