Bruce Pearl, Coaching Staff Sanctioned Heavily by Tennessee
Athletic director Mike Hamilton said the coach provided incorrect information to the NCAA when questioned about impermissible phone calls to recruits.
Pearl won't be allowed to recruit off campus for one year, beginning Sept. 24.His three assistants, Tony Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay, will also be prohibited from recruiting off campus for periods ranging from three months to one year.
An emotional Pearl fought back tears as he apologized for his actions.
"I made some serious mistakes and for that I'm truly sorry," Pearl said. "I provided incorrect and misleading information to the NCAA. ... I learned some invaluable lessons. I learned it's not OK to tell the truth most of the time, it's OK to tell the truth all the time."
The Tennessee coach will also forfeit $1.5 million in salary during the next five years, while the assistants will receive a 25 percent reduction in salary. A $500,000 retention bonus, scheduled to be paid in 2012, will also be delayed until June 30, 2015, the end of his current contract.
The investigation centers on violations that occurred primarily during the 2008-09 and 2009-2010 academic years, according to the NCAA's notice of inquiry, the document that informs the school of an NCAA investigation. Hamilton said Pearl provided incorrect information in June, but soon came to Hamilton to inform the athletic director he had misled the NCAA.
Pearl said his conscience got the best of him.
"I obviously wasn't very happy with myself," Pearl said. "It was the right thing to do. I should've done it right away."
Specific details of the the violations were not divulged; however, Pearl said misleading investigators was worse than the underlying offenses of impermissible phone calls.
"In this case, the things that we did that were wrong, but weren't as serious as how we reacted to them," he said.
"What we did was wrong. What we should've done is not only tell the truth but be forthcoming and self-report some things."
The NCAA said it expects to complete the investigation by December, at which time the governing body will issue a notice of allegations.
Further sanctions are possible if the NCAA's Committee on Infractions deems the self-sanctions insufficient.
"There are no guarantees," Hamilton said. "Certainly we hope the (sanctions) will be viewed in the right way," Hamilton said.
The school's football program is also under investigation and admitted six secondary violations during the single-year reign of coach Lane Kiffin. The school has not received a notice of inquiry for the football investigation.
The prohibition on off-campus recruiting stands to be the most harmful penalty to the Tennessee program. However, Pearl said he believed the Volunteers could still be competitive in the recruiting arena.
"I think our team will respond to adversity, " Pearl said. "I think there are prospects that are still interested in Tennessee, in our education, in our basketball program. It'll present some challenges no question, but it will be an opportunity for some people, in spite of the difficulties to demonstrate that they still want to be a Volunteer."
Tennessee finished 28-9 last season and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, the school's best-ever showing.