Pearl acknowledges misleading NCAA

University of Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl reacts during a news conference on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010 in Knoxville, Tenn. Pearl expresses remorse for giving misleading information to the NCAA during an investigation into the school's basketball program. Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton is reducing Pearl's pay by $1.5 million over five years and prohibiting him from participating in off-campus recruiting for one year.

 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --- Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said in January that the troubles within the Volunteers program must end.

They haven't -- violations, arrests and a bar brawl have been among an embarrassing list of incidents.

Now the NCAA is getting involved.

The latest black eye for Tennessee came Friday when men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl acknowledged he gave misleading and incorrect information to the NCAA about possible violations during a 17-month investigation of his program.

"People make mistakes, and we all make them," Hamilton said. "I've made them. I've made plenty. Bruce made one mistake in this incident, and he came forward to correct it. I'm glad he's our basketball coach."

Hamilton expects the NCAA to levy unethical conduct charges against Pearl and his staff, and as a pre-emptive punishment he is reducing Pearl's pay by $1.5 million over five years and prohibiting him from participating in off-campus recruiting for a year beginning Sept 24.

Pearl's three assistants also had their pay reduced and cannot participate in off-campus recruiting for periods varying from three months to a year.

Pearl made his announcement less than 24 hours after Tennessee received a letter from the NCAA notifying the university of an official investigation into the entire athletic department. The probe includes possible recruiting violations by the men's basketball program and the football team during former coach Lane Kiffin's one-year tenure.

"This is a tough time, but we're going to get through it as an institution, as a basketball staff, as an athletic staff," Hamilton said.

An emotional Pearl apologized for his part in "letting everybody down."

He provided false information to the NCAA while being interviewed in June about allegations of excessive phone calls made to recruits. Pearl notified officials three weeks later.

"I've made some serious mistakes, and for that I'm truly sorry," Pearl said tearfully at a news conference. "I provided incorrect and misleading information to the NCAA. I've learned some invaluable lessons."

The NCAA has told Tennessee that it expects to wrap up the investigation by December -- if not sooner -- unless it learns of additional potential violations.

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