Tennessee Fans Wanted to Keep Bruce Pearl and Fire AD Mike Hamilton
Tennessee fired head basketball coach Bruce Pearl on Monday, a move that we heard was in the works from before the tournament began. The Vols’ 75-45 hideous loss in the first round of the tourney to Michigan made the execution much easier, as did the comments from Tobias Harris after the game saying the team had quit.
Pearl’s firing came after it was learned he had committed several NCAA violations. Though some of the violations were minor in nature, his real crime was lying to the NCAA and Tennessee’s administration about them. And just to show you how aware yet manipulative he was, it turns out Pearl was cheating less than a week after making a sobbing apology to the school.
What’s truly sad in this whole ordeal is not that Pearl was so blatantly cheating and lying to the NCAA and administration, but that the school’s fans don’t care what rules were broken or that Pearl lied to the NCAA.
Mike Strange of the Knoxville News-Sentinel wrote a column outlining all of Pearl’s positive contributions to the Vols basketball program over the weekend and included this info: as of Saturday, 91% of people responding to a poll said they supported Pearl more than AD Mike Hamilton, who is the one pushing him out the door.
It’s almost a certainty that Pearl’s ability to take Tennessee’s programs to previously unseen levels drove fans to overlook his lying and violations.
RELATED: Bruce Pearl gets favorable treatment from the media
Under Pearl, the Vols made the tournament six straight years, achieved its first #1 ranking in the country in school history, won its first SEC title outright since 1967, and saw fan attendance jump by over 5,000 per game. Beyond just the marked improvement on the court, Pearl brought energy to the program. He would dress up in orange blazers, orange suspenders, and he showed up at women’s games with his chest painted. In summation, he made Tennessee men’s basketball fun and equally as large of a draw as the legendary women’s program.
To that end, around 150 fans showed up for a pro Pearl rally on Sunday. The presence was much stronger in the virtual world where nearly 12,000 people have supported the “Keep Bruce Pearl” group on facebook as of this writing. There are some fans embarrassed by Pearl’s actions and support the administration, but what we’ve learned is that most fans care more about winning than ethics. Sadly, it probably is the same way for most other fan bases.
Photo Credit: Adam Brimer