Southeastern Conference officials announced Friday that University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl will be suspended for this season's first eight SEC games.
His suspension includes the Volunteers’ home game against Vanderbilt on Jan. 15.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement that the suspension stemmed from an NCAA investigation into the Tennessee men’s basketball program.
“The suspension from coaching duties has been imposed after a careful review of the facts established during the NCAA's investigation and reported to the SEC office,” Slive said. “I am extremely disappointed in the nature of the violations involving Coach Pearl and the Tennessee men's basketball program. The penalty applied to this circumstance is significant, which is consistent with the directive approved by the SEC membership in 2010 granting the Commissioner authority to act in such cases.”
Pearl admitted in September to lying to NCAA investigators, who had photos of him improperly hosting a recruit in 2008. The university also acknowledged then that Pearl and his coaching staff made excessive phone calls to recruits. Tennessee punished Pearl by restructuring his contract, costing Pearl $1.5 million for a five-year span and for the next year he can’t recruit off-campus.
Pearl’s suspension will begin on Jan. 8 when the Volunteers play at Arkansas will continue through Feb. 5. He is also suspended from all team activities on the days of those games. Tennessee does play a non-conference game at Connecticut on Jan. 22 and Pearl will be back coaching on the sidelines for that game.
His first SEC game back will be at Kentucky on Feb. 8.