August 24, 2011
When the NCAA formally reveals its findings in Tennessee's infractions case Wednesday, the winner and loser should be very apparent.
The Vols apparently escaped further penalties besides the ones they self-imposed months ago. Their former coach and his staff weren't so lucky.
According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, ex-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl will receive a show-cause penalty Wednesday preventing him from landing a job of any kind at an NCAA-accredited institution the next three years. Each of Pearl's three ex-assistant coaches — Tony Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes — will also receive one-year show-cause penalties for their roles in the scandal.
The punishment for Pearl and his staff is neither surprising nor unfair considering the lies they told once the NCAA discovered they had violated the rules by having prospective recruits attend a barbecue at the Tennessee coach's house. Instead of coming clean and admitting to what surely would have been only a semi-serious violation, Pearl attempted a cover-up, asking a recruit's family to lie for him and insisting to investigators that he didn't recognize his own home in a photo.
What will be particularly interesting is whether a school will take a chance on Pearl once his three-year penalty expires.
Todd Bozeman can't draw much interest from BCS programs or even quality mid-majors since receiving an eight-year show-cause penalty for paying Cal recruits in the mid-1990s, yet he has managed to land on his feet at Morgan State. It's not hard to envision a non-major conference school taking a similar chance on Pearl in a few years because his track record of on-court success is even better than Bozeman's.
For now Pearl's best option is probably either attempting to forge a career as a TV analyst or entering the professional coaching ranks. A TV gig would keep him familiar to recruits and make him more attractive to a college once his penalty expires, but Pearl is weighing an offer to coach the Dallas Mavericks' D-League affiliate as well.
As for the Tennessee program, the Vols have to feel fortunate to not be hit with more sanctions. Two years of probation and various self-imposed recruiting restrictions won't help Cuonzo Martin's rebuilding process, but they certainly won't cripple it either.