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Tennessee imposes big penalty on Pearl
After admitting to misleading the NCAA in an investigation, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl will lose 25 percent of his salary — or a total of $2 million — for the remainder of his five-year contract and not be allowed to recruit off-campus for one year.
The investigation, according to sources, involved illegal phone calls and also improper contact with recruits.
''I've made some serious mistakes, and for that I'm truly sorry,'' a tearful Pearl said during a Friday news conference. ''I provided incorrect and misleading information to the NCAA. I've learned some invaluable lessons. After I provided the false and misleading information, subsequently I went back and corrected the record.
The Vols received a letter of inquiry from the NCAA on Friday following an investigation into the program and then released the self-imposed sanctions.
Tennessee now will wait for the NCAA’s ruling on a punishment for the program.
The significant hit for the program will come in the fact that Pearl will not be permitted to engage in any off-campus recruiting for one year — from Sept. 24, 2010 until Sept. 23, 2011.
Not only that, but all three assistant coaches — Tony Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay — will also have their salaries cut by 25 percent for the next year and will have recruiting limitations.
''I don't believe these sanctions are going to prevent us from being competitive,'' Pearl said to an audience that included his Vols players and Lady Volunteers coach Pat Summitt. ''I think our team will respond to this adversity.''
Forbes won’t be allowed to recruit off-campus for the next year, Jones can’t recruit off-campus for nine months and Shay won’t be allowed to do so for a three-month period.
The university received a letter from the NCAA on Friday, notifying the Volunteers of an official investigation into the entire athletic department, including possible recruiting violations under former football coach Lane Kiffin.
NCAA Vice President of Enforcement David Price said in the letter that the NCAA hopes to have the investigation completed by December.
The NCAA has interviewed several current and former Tennessee football assistant coaches and recruits about possible violations last season. Tennessee self-reported six minor recruiting violations by Kiffin and his staff during their one-year tenure and in December acknowledged cooperating with an NCAA investigation into actions by the school's Orange Pride athletics hostess program.
''The receipt of this letter represents the next step toward the conclusion of this process,'' Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley said in a statement. ''We have high standards in all aspects of the Tennessee football program, and we are steadfast in operating this program with an unwavering commitment to compliance with NCAA rules.''
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said he hopes the NCAA will take into account the punishments he's levied against the coaching staff when it concludes its investigation and decides on any additional penalty. Attorney Mike Glazier has been hired to assist the university during the investigation.
Hamilton said he was unable to find a similar case from another athletic program where a coach acknowledged wrongdoing before being punished by the NCAA.
''There needs to be more of that in college athletics,'' the athletic director said. ''I hope part of what you get out of this today is this is a person that stood up and did the right thing in the end by coming back forward and saying, 'I want to correct this.'
''I can tell you my interaction with him during that process, it was clearly something he initiated and was concerned about.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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