Sunday, October 10, 2010

More Guys Who Should be Fired

Basketball coaches Jim Calhoun at UConn and Bruce Pearl at Tennessee should be fired. Calhoun is a bully and a cheat, but UConn doesn't have the guts to fire him after announcing their ridiculous self-imposed punishment for major recruiting violations last week.  Pearl flat out lied to NCAA investigators who questioned him and then lied again in saying he wasn't aware that he was breaking a rule, but Tennessee will have to wait for formal allegations by the NCAA before taking action. Plenty of people are willing to stand up and criticize the NCAA any chance they get, but are missing the bigger picture. Guys like Pete Carroll at USC, Butch Davis at North Carolina and Calhoun and Pearl are cheating and lying and not being held accountable by their own institutions. The administrations don't have the courage to stand up and take action against the big revenue-generating programs at their own schools.

The UConn violations aren't new news. Yahoo! Sports originally did the investigative reporting and broke the story in March 2009. The charges were then announced in May of this year when two of Calhoun's young assistants were made scapegoats and forced to resign.  This week UConn tried to stem any punishment by the NCAA by announcing the results of its own investigation. In one of the more farcical acts in a college sports landscape filled with them, UConn's self-imposed punishment was...wait for it...two-years probation. I'm not kidding. The University president announced how serious he thought the situation was, and then announced the slap-on-the-wrist punishment. They didn't ban themselves from the post-season and they didn't sanction Calhoun in any way. They cut the number of scholarships from 13 to 12 for two years. Wow. As this article and this article suggest, UConn is playing with fire because there is no way the NCAA is going to find that punishment sufficient. And hopefully, somebody at UConn will come to their senses and fire a guy who has repeatedly shown himself to be one of the biggest jackasses and cheaters in all of sports.

Unlike Calhoun, Bruce Pearl is a reasonably likable figure and appeared genuinely apologetic during a press conference last month--something Calhoun has never been. But Pearl's recruiting violations are particularly noteworthy since he was at the center of a recruiting scandal while an assistant at Iowa in the late '80s. Pearl secretly taped a conversation with a recruit and then turned the tapes over to the NCAA and implicated the University of Illinois for various violations. Nothing came of the allegations but the resulting investigation found other problems and Illinois was hammered with sanctions. Pearl was blackballed. It took him three years to get a job and it wasn't until 2005 that he got a chance at a big school.

This summer Pearl was questioned by the NCAA about, among other things, hosting recruits at his house. The NCAA had done a lot of preliminary work before meeting with Pearl and presented him with a photo of him and some recruits at his home. When asked where the photo was taken, Pearl lied saying he didn't know. After the interview he found out that the NCAA had the info and knew he lied. That is when he decided to come clean and apologize. Last week it was reported that Pearl also violated the rule in 2004 when coaching at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The school self-reported the violation at the time.

At the moment Tennessee's hands are tied. Pearl's contract does not allow him to be fired for cause without compensation unless there is an NCAA finding and it is determined that Pearl knowingly committed significant violations. (Whoever from the University agreed to have language like that in Pearl's contract should also be fired.) Unlike UConn Tennessee has taken some action, but is still awaiting notice of allegations from the NCAA. Pearl's salary has been cut by $1.5 million over five years and he has been banned from recruiting off campus for a year. The news that Pearl had committed a similar violation that was reported to the NCAA in the past should give Tennessee all the ammo it now needs once the NCAA announces its findings sometime in 2011. Hopefully they will show more backbone than the pathetic administration at UConn and fire Pearl when the time comes.


Tnkhoury said...

Agree on both but when I saw the headline I honestly thought this post was going to be about Norv Turner.

The Hammer said...

LOL, I didn't see a lot of the game, but that's another bad loss. They should win the division, but there is no way they go far and the coaching is terrible.