Tennessee’s release on firing Bruce Pearl

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Tennessee officially fired coach Bruce Pearl Monday night, bringing an end to his six-year tenure at the school. Pearl ran afoul of NCAA recruiting rules, then committed additional violations on Sept. 14 of 2010 and this March. Yes, this March.

The complete statement follows from athletic director Mike Hamilton:

“Today, we are announcing that we have reached an agreement with Bruce Pearl that will result in him and his immediate staff being relieved of their duties with the University of Tennessee men’s basketball program. This is a difficult day for many obvious reasons. Six years ago, Bruce Pearl arrived on our campus and renewed hope in Tennessee Basketball. He, his staff, and our student-athletes have allowed us as administrators and fans to enjoy unprecedented success and many victories during that time. He has become a friend to many and has done tremendous work in our community. Upon receipt of our NCAA Letter of Inquiry in September, we made the difficult decision to forego common national opinion and forge ahead with Bruce and his staff pending any further major infractions or issues that would preclude our basketball program from representing the University of Tennessee in the right manner. The months that followed have been difficult on everyone – our staff, our coaches, our administration, our fans and, certainly, our young men. During this time, the dynamics of our case with the NCAA have evolved further, including additional violations committed on September 14 and in March 2011. The cumulative effect of the evolution of the investigation combined with a number of more recent non-NCAA-related incidents have led to a belief that this staff cannot be viable at Tennessee in the future. Therefore, it is in the best interests of our institution to move in a different direction.

“We have included separation terms that will detail more clearly our role in the transition for Coach Pearl and his assistant coaches. In the meantime, we have named native Tennessean and a former head coach, Houston Fancher, as interim coach during our hiring process. Our search process will begin immediately. This is a great job and will attract a significant number of interested coaches. Much of that interest is a tribute to what Coach Pearl has helped to build, but more importantly, what our fans have built. We will take an appropriate amount of time, but will move as swiftly as is effective to bring this to conclusion. Lastly, I want to apologize to our fans for my untimely comments prior to last week’s NCAA appearance. distraction to what has already been a year of distractions. While my comments were never intended for harm, they became an unneeded distraction to what has already been a year of distractions.”

Pearl will be paid $948,728 – a cumulative figure from him receiving his current salary through June 30 and an additional $50,000 per month through June 30, 2012. He’ll also receive health insurance costs.

His assistants will be paid at their current salaries through July 31, 2011.

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