When the Bruce Pearl saga came up September 10th, most people wanted to keep Pearl. I was one of them. Yes, Bruce made a stupid, idiotic decision. And yes, he didn’t come “clean” till he knew he was caught. While I didn’t like the lie in any form, I looked at the violation in itself. The cookout wasn’t much, and Bruce panicked. I liked the sanctions UT put on him, and felt it was proper punishment. I changed my tune some when I learned that he was calling recruits and their families to help cover his punishment. However, I could see the point of keeping him, and understood why people didn’t want him gone.
I have now changed my mind. With the Letter of Allegations coming out, the NCAA alleged that Pearl committed a violation (it’s on page eleven on the report) FOUR DAYS after the press conference announcing the penalties. The allegation is that Pearl violated the “bump” rule, and had a two or three minute conversation with 2012 recruit Jordan Adams.
What Pearl did was a slap to the face of the fans. He (again) betrayed our trust after promising (and crying) to behave. He basically spat upon the university after Hamilton decided to keep him despite his troubles, when most schools would have fired him. Instead of being on his best behavior, and taking advantage of his second chance, he showed no respect towards the rules again. How much of an egomaniac do you have to be where you say, “I know I just got caught breaking rules, lying about it, then got caught trying to cover them up. And that the university still supports me and lets me still have my job…but screw it, we need this recruit so let’s take the chance.” Bruce Pearl put himself first, and showed that he only cares about himself with this latest allegation.
Unless you only care about winning, I just don’t know how you can justify keeping Coach Pearl after this. If you look at it, Bruce Pearl lied again to the university and NCAA. After promising to keep his nose clean and be on his best behavior, he goes on later in the week with absolute no respect for anyone and breaks the rule. This wasn’t something that can be labeled “accidental”, nor can you say it’s one of those rules nobody knows about. It’s been in existence for a few years. The complete lack of compliance here is what’s telling. Bruce Pearl didn’t just screw up once…this is a character problem. This isn’t just a one-time thing. This is a mindset for Bruce Pearl: I can do whatever I want.
I think Bruce Pearl’s character has now been shown. The university was already risking a lot by keeping Pearl. But now, how can you keep him? How can you ever trust him to follow the rules, let alone trust him when he tells you something? Hasn’t he shown he only looks out for himself? Yes, Bruce Pearl is a nice guy. He is a good basketball coach that has done a lot for the university, in more than one way than just basketball. Hell, I’ve even had a conversation with him, and he’s an engaging guy and hard not to like. But he has gone too far. It’s time to fire him. The sanctions might do more damage than the good he has done for UT. I love to win as much as anybody, but at this point, it’s not about winning anymore. It’s about having some respect for the university and the program. Bruce Pearl is not above the UT basketball program, and he does not deserve to be the face of UT Basketball.