Per Josh Ward, who was able to catch the press conference, and our own Bloodspite, who was Twitter-watching, Bruce Pearl and his entire Tennessee basketball staff is taking a 25% pay cut and will be prohibited from going on the road to recruit for an entire year for not only engaging in recruiting violations but misleading the NCAA during its investigation of those violations as well. Honestly, I only caught snippets, so I'm not entirely sure what those violations are, but it's probably safe to say that the sanctions are primarily for lying to the NCAA about it.
This is truly awful, and I'm not even considering the sanctions at this point. I'm talking about watching Pearl fight back tears of embarrassment and shame, which he himself will tell you he deserves, as he took full responsibility for his actions and apologized, saying he let down himself, the University, the fans, and his players.
Yeah, as much talk of rules violations as circulate on message boards, blogs, and other internet comment threads, there is no getting around this: We cheated. We lied. And it wasn't Lane Kiffin or Ed Oregeron who did it. It was Bruce Pearl.
All that said, I think Pearl deserves a great deal of credit for the way he's handling himself now, and I'm betting that's a huge reason why he's still the coach. No one but Pat Summitt has more good will in the bank at Tennessee than Pearl, and while he may have spent every last penny, he still has a job here, and I, for one, am glad. But if there had been any hint of defensiveness or arrogance about, well, that could very well have been a different story. He says he wants to coach the rest of his career at Tennessee and that he'll never let us down like this again. Call me naive if you like, but I believe him.
Now, about the sanctions. The money doesn't impact fans or the program at all. Pearl can hardly complain now that he's underpaid, so I'd bet the program is today safer than it was with respect to Pearl-as-a-flight-risk. The recruiting, is probably a different story. Pearl had been gaining momentum, turning Tennessee into a program with a truly national profile. This will set that back a bit. How much, we won't know for some time.
Sigh. Not a good day. Will's got his initial reaction coming up right on the heels of mine. Leave your comments in this thread until he posts his, and then switch to his.