Posted on: March 21, 2011 10:13 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 10:27 pm

Statement from UT AD Mike Hamilton

The following is a statement from Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton.

It confirms Monday's firing of Bruce Pearl.

"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."

----- Terms of Agreement -----

Head men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl will be paid at his current salary rate through June 30, 2011. He will also receive $50,000 per month for 12 months, from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012, and will also receive health insurance costs. This cumulative figure is $948,728. Additionally, the men’s basketball coaching staff will each be paid at their current salary rate through July 31, 2011.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 4:27 pm

Craft on Pearl: "My heart goes out to him."

Aaron Craft is one of the reasons Ohio State is the No. 1 overall seed in this NCAA tournament.

He's also, at least partly, the reason Tennessee fired Bruce Pearl on Monday.

Pearl's NCAA troubles that led to his dismissal began last summer when the NCAA obtained a photo that showed Pearl hosting Craft at his Knoxville home in September 2008. Because Craft was a high school junior at the time, the contact was impermissible. Pearl lied about the details of the picture when the NCAA initially approached him about it. He was charged with unethical conduct last month and let go three days after UT's season ended.

Craft commented about Pearl to

"My heart goes out to him," Craft said. "I feel bad for Coach Pearl. He was a good guy to me. My heart goes out."

Ohio State plays Kentucky on Friday in the Sweet 16.
Posted on: March 21, 2011 2:16 pm

Source: UT parting ways with Pearl

Tennessee has decided to end Bruce Pearl's tenure as the school's men's basketball coach because of NCAA violations detailed in a notice of allegations received last month, a source told on Monday.

A formal announcement is expected in the next 24 hours.

A source told that Pearl is not expected to hold a press conference.

Pearl's NCAA issues became public last September when the school acknowledged recruiting violations. At the time, Pearl only said that he didn't "tell the truth the first time" NCAA investigators asked him about a violation; he declined to be more specific. subsequently reported that Pearl's lie centered around a picture that showed Aaron Craft, now a freshman at Ohio State, at Pearl's home while on an unofficial visit in violation of NCAA rules.

UT's notice of allegations confirmed that report.

The program was charged with seven major violations.

Pearl, predictably, was charged with unethical conduct.

Tennessee punished Pearl before the notice of allegations arrived. He was banned from off-campus recruiting for a year, had his salary cut and contract voided, and then the SEC suspended him for eight league games. Still, athletic director Mike Hamilton continued to publicly back Pearl, but that changed  last Wednesday when Hamilton appeared on a Knoxville radio station and, to the surprise of the UT staff, said Pearl's job status was unclear and that the school would decide whether to keep its coach at the conclusion of the season.

Michigan beat the Vols by 30 points in the Round of 64 two days later.

Now Pearl is out as UT's coach.

A search for his replacement has already begun.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 20, 2011 12:54 pm

Gillispie reaches agreement with Texas Tech

Texas Tech officials have finalized an agreement that will make Billy Gillispie the school's next men's basketball coach, as reported would be the case last Thursday.

A formal announcement is expected later Sunday.

The introductory press conference will be Wednesday, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Gillispie is a somewhat controversial hire because of a history of drinking-and-driving arrests but an obvious home run in terms of basketball. He's a Texas native who took UTEP to the NCAA tournament in 2004, then took Texas A&M to the 2006 and 2007 NCAA tournaments. Kentucky hired Gillispie to replace Tubby Smith after the 2007 season, but Gillispie was never a good fit in the high-profile job. He lasted only two years and was replaced by John Calipari.

Texas Tech fired Pat Knight on March 7.

He coached parts of four seasons and never made the NCAA tournament.

Posted on: March 19, 2011 6:18 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2011 6:29 pm

Buzz is great in press conferences Part II

CLEVELAND -- Marquette's Buzz Williams once again killed it in his pregame press conference.

He was asked Saturday whether he had modest or big career ambitions when he started as an assistant at Navarro. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Todd Rosiak posted Williams' response in his blog, and I thought it was so good I wanted to do the same. So here's Williams' long answer to what seemed like a simple question:

"I was a student assistant at Navarro from '90 to '92, and then I was a student assistant at Oklahoma City University my junior and senior years, '92 to '94. The first job that I took was a high-paying job. It paid$400 a month in a dorm room, and that was at the University of Texas at Arlington. It's a long story in how I got that job, but from the beginning of my first day of college until the last day of college, any college coach that I met, regardless of title and regardless of classification, from that point forward I wrote them a letter once a week. That's before the iPhones and Internet and Twitter. And I was 17 when I enrolled in college.  And I didn't know anything about college basketball, to be honest with you, but I knew how to say yes, sir, and no, sir. I wasn't scared to work, and I knew that being polite and being honest would at least give you a chance.  And of the 425 coaches over the course of my college career that I met, one of them was at the Final Four in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1994. In January of '94 I went to the financial aid office at OCU, and I used to steal stationery and envelopes from a lady there so I could write letters. I said, I need a loan. She said, You don't qualify for a loan. I said, I need some sort of loan. She said, Why? Because I want to go to the Final Four. And she gave me an emergency student loan for $1,200. I bought a suit, a shirt, a tie, a belt, a pair of socks and shoes and a roundtrip plane ticket to Charlotte, North Carolina. Paid for it all in cash. I arrived in Charlotte on a Thursday afternoon, with zero dollars in my pocket, dressed with what I bought at Bachrach, and as many colors of construction paper with my resumé on it that in essence said I knew how to sweep the floor from corner to corner. And for three consecutive days and three consecutive nights I stood in the lobby of the Adam's Mark Hotel in Charlotte and passed out every resumé that I could. On the Saturday night of the semifinals, one of the coaches that I knew told me about the job at UTA. And so every hour on the hour until Monday afternoon before the championship game, I went to the house phone and left a message for the head coach at UTA. I flew back on Monday night. And when I got to Oklahoma City, I got in my car. It was a 1974 Ford Courier pickup that had a U-Haul box on it that I sold the box for $500 so I could afford the truck for a thousand, paid for it in cash, and I drove from Oklahoma City to Arlington, Texas. I took the first exit at Arlington. It was West Park Row. I exited and I stopped at a Shell station. And back then they had phonebooks. Arlington's a big city, and Eddie McCarter, his name was in the phonebook, and I went in there and asked the convenience store attendant if she happened to know where this street was. She halfway guided me there. This was without a GPS. I got closer. Stopped at three other convenience stores. I set in my car until about Tuesday night in front of Eddie McCarter's house. He drove up Tuesday night, drove in his parking garage, and when he got out of his car I got out of my truck. And I don't know if you would call it a truck. It was more like a red wagon. I bought two-by-sixes and drilled them to the chassis of the truck and then stained it kind of a dark cherry wood stain. And when he got out of the car, I got out and I said, Hi, Coach McCarter, I just wanted to say one more time how much I really want the job. And he said, You have to be the craziest son of a bitch I've ever seen. And I said, Coach, I wanted to tell you one more time that I wanted the job. Now, understand, this is April the 6th. I don't have a degree. And so he invites me in his house and he said, I don't really know what else to tell you. I said, Coach, you don't have to tell me anything. I know you don't know me. I'm just telling you I want the job, and I'm telling you I don't care who you can hire, nobody will work harder. That was on a Tuesday night. I turned around and drove through the night back to Oklahoma City. He called me on a Friday after visiting with the AD. The AD's name was B.J. Skelton. He came from Clemson. And he told me that the AD wanted to talk to me over the phone and if everything went fine he would hire me. So I talked to the AD on that Saturday morning, and Monday I went to the registrar at OCU, who sang the National Anthem before every game, and I handed her a microphone like this, minus the NCAA logo, and I said -- I called her Aunt Nell. She looked like the African-American lady from the hit show "Give Me a Break." And I said, Aunt Nell, I got a job. She said, Boy, that's great, Buzz. I said, Well, they don't know I don't have a degree. And she said, What do you mean? I said, I've dreamed my whole life to be a Division I coach, and I'm going. And I start next Monday. And so whatever you have to do, if you need me to go to the president, you know, I can go to the president, because I steal letter envelopes and stationery from the secretary. I need to get out of here because I start next Monday morning. And so I was enrolled in 15 hours. I was magna cum laude at that moment in time and I went to every teacher, some of which gave me the grade I earned up until that point. Some of which I had to finish projects, book reports, whatever, tests. I would take zeros on it. I would do the best I could. I had four days. And I told Aunt Nell, I'm going to pull up in a U-Haul on Friday afternoon and I'm going to have an 11-by-13 frame in the front of this U-Haul truck and it's going to be blank, and I'm going to honk the horn and I'm driving the truck all the way up on the curb into the stairs, and I'm going to walk up and I want you to give me my diploma. That was on Friday afternoon at 4:30. I got in the U-Haul and drove to Arlington, had no money, had nowhere to live. I slept in the U-Haul in the parking lot of the athletic office until Monday morning at 8:00. Monday morning at 8:00 I walked in there and I said, I'm here. That's how it all started. So I don't know if you would deem that to be modest or not. But I can tell you that you can't create a story such as that. There was zero exaggeration in what I just told you. And for me to elicit those facts as verbatim as I did, you can't exaggerate anything like that. Only God could author something of that magnitude, and I tell our kids, I've told everybody, I'm living the dream 1,075 days into being the head coach at Marquette, bigger than any I've ever had as a kid. And I'm unbelievably humbled and grateful for the opportunity. But I don't know what the right adjective would be to describe what I thought or what my dreams were. I just knew that the only chance I had as a non-player, as no one that was connected to anybody associated with anybody in college athletics, was to wake up early, be very hard and diligent and effective and efficient in my work, to always tell the truth and to always try to treat people the right way. And that's not a secret. And that's just kind of how it's played out. And I just wanted to be the head coach at Navarro some day. I never thought that the day I would be hired as the head coach at Marquette that I would hire the guy that I worked for at Navarro, and he's arrived here somewhere. He was 76 years old. He was a college coach for 50 years. He's not Gene Keady at Purdue, and I'm not Steve Lavin at St. John's, but the stories are similar. It's just we're from the country, and it's worked out the way that it has."
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 18, 2011 10:55 am

Irving's return has Duke as co-favorites

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Kyrie Irving's return has pushed Duke into the role of co-favorites in this NCAA tournament. now lists Ohio State (+450), Kansas (+450) and Duke (+450) as the three co-favorites -- followed by Pittsburgh (+800), San Diego State (+1000) and Notre Dame (+1200). Meantime, Duke has even odds to win the West Regional even though a presumed Elite Eight matchup with San Diego State could feel like a road game in Anaheim.


I've still got SDSU winning the West Regional.

But I've also got Missouri and Vanderbilt in the Sweet 16.

So, yeah, Duke's probably in good shape.
Posted on: March 17, 2011 11:40 am
Edited on: March 17, 2011 11:48 am

Source: Gillispie to TTU likely coming next week

Billy Gillispie will be named Texas Tech's next basketball coach barring an unexpected change of plans over the coming days, a source told on Thursday. But the source added that nothing is finalized and almost certainly won't be before Monday because Kirby Hocutt doesn't officially take over as the school's athletic director until next week, and Texas Tech won't formally move on Gillispie in advance of that.

"They're in a holding pattern," the source said. "But it's headed that direction."

Gillispie would be a somewhat controversial hire because of a history of drinking-and-driving arrests but an obvious home run in terms of basketball. He's a Texas native who took UTEP to the NCAA tournament in 2004, then took Texas A&M to the 2006 and 2007 NCAA tournaments. Kentucky hired Gillispie to replace Tubby Smith after the 2007 season, but Gillispie was never a good fit in the high-profile job. He lasted only two years and was replaced by John Calipari.

Texas Tech fired Pat Knight on March 7.

He coached parts of four seasons and never made the NCAA tournament.

Gillispie is the only known candidate who has already interviewed with Texas Tech officials.

Posted on: March 16, 2011 3:44 pm

UT AD wavers on future of Pearl

DAYTON, Ohio -- Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton publicly wavered for the first time Wednesday when asked about Bruce Pearl's future as the head coach of the Vols basketball program.

"We don’t know the answer today,” Hamilton told a Knoxville radio station. "We’ve done a lot of soul searching about the direction of our program and we’ll continue to do that and we’ll decide after we’re out of the NCAA Tournament what direction it is that we’re going to go next. We’re not going to finish our evaluation until after the season is over."

Hamilton's comments are the first real sign that Tennessee might be prepared to remove Pearl shortly after the conclusion of this season because of recruiting violations that have brought sanctions and bad publicity to the school. He had previously suggested Pearl would continue as coach even if the NCAA levies additional penalties because he didn't view Pearl's transgressions as firable offenses, but clearly things have changed. Asked if Pearl is bothered by the fact that he's working without a contract, Hamilton said, "I’m sure he is.  Absolutely.  But he had a chance to have had a contract back in November and December and we just never got to the finish line. Now we’ve got to the point where we don’t feel like we can do that."

Tennessee plays Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Friday.
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