This could just be the tip of the iceberg for Coach Bruce Pearl and the Tennessee athletic department, but SEC commissioner Mike Slive has announced that Pearl will be suspended for the first eight games of the SEC season for lying to NCAA investigators.
Assistant Coach Tony Jones will fill in for Pearl during those games. Pearl will continue to coach the Vols during non-conference games. Presumably, Pearl will return to coach UT against Connecticut on January 22nd, a game which will fall in the middle of his eight game suspension.
“I have been a very public advocate for playing by the rules,” Pearl said Friday. “When you don’t play by the rules, these are the things that can happen. So while these penalties that we’ve self-imposed and now the commissioner’s imposing are unprecedentedly strong, it sets a very high standard and a high standard that I agreed to.”
The NCAA is expected to announce the results and consequences of its investigation of the UT Athletic Department in December. Additional penalties will likely be imposed at that time.
In the meantime, Pearl continues to coach without a signed contract. UT reports that the details of Pearl’s contract are being finalized and it is expected that the contract will soon be completed and signed by Pearl.
Tennessee’s next game is on Wednesday as they travel to Madison Square Garden in New York. The Vols will take on Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals of the preseason NIT. The winner will play either UCLA or Villanova on Friday.