It's no surprise that Vols head coach Bruce Pearl must now kiss his tenure at Tennessee goodbye. If you're following the NCAA tournament, you've probably heard by now that Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton informed Pearl of the decision this morning.
See, Pearl is currently being investigated by the NCAA and he's admitted lying to the organization about recruiting practices that violated the NCAA rules.
And it's not like this was just a one time "whoops." No, the NCAA recently sent a notice of allegations to Tennessee that documented 10 major violations that happened while Pearl was in charge -- including an unethical conduct charge. He lied to investigators about a photo that was taken of him with two high school juniors.
Pearl told them he didn't know the location of said photo, but it turned out that it was taken during a barbecue at Pearl's home. In the NCAA's book, that's a huge no-no. High school juniors can only participate in recruiting visits on the school's campus.
Of course, his dismissal isn't happy news to tons of Tennessee fans who stand with Pearl. In fact, there was a rally held yesterday outside the Thompson-Boiling Arena for the coach, and the Knoxville Sentinel quoted one supporter named Donald Brackins:
Bruce Pearl is a good coach who made a mistake, and all of us have made mistakes. We now have much better basketball, and Bruce does so much for our community.
Supporters say the team hasn't benefited competitively from any of the violations he committed, but I'm not sure that's really the point.
The NCAA can't just give Pearl a free pass, because he's made Tennessee college basketball fans happy. And Mike Hamilton likely let him go because he didn't want to have to contend with further embarrassment tied to this fiasco. Can you blame him?
I really do feel bad for all of the loyal fans who think of Pearl as a beloved coach, who say he's been a staunch supporter of women's basketball and cancer awareness. Because he really let them down. And it's a shame that they have to send him on his way. But he would have done well to consider what was at stake before he neglected to follow the NCAA's rules or be honest about his recruiting practices in the first place.
Do you think Pearl should have been fired?
Image via Kevin C. Cox/Getty