Now, it's official. The NCAA is hitting Bruce Pearl with a three-year show-cause in the Tennessee case -- meaning any school that wants to hire Pearl will have to prove to the organization that it should be allowed to -- and basically letting Lane Kiffin and the football program off the hook. The Volunteers will also get two years' probation. Nothing unexpected, and nothing really all that terribly controversial.
Also, three former assistant coaches -- Tony Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay -- were cited for a failure to cooperate with the investigation. Each of the former assistant coaches received a one-year show-cause order, which also prohibits recruiting activity.
In addition to the 20 penalties self-imposed by the university and the Southeastern Conference and agreed to by the infractions committee, Tennessee must also serve two years of probation.
The upshot of that is that Pearl and the sanctioned assistants are essentially unemployable for the length of their show-causes. (They're also not able to recruit during that period, which is perhaps even a bigger barrier to getting hired than the NCAA.) Pearl can probably catch on in the NBA ranks somewhere, while the other three will either try to do that or just cool their heels for a while.
As for what brought all this on? Yep, not the crime but the cover-up.
The most serious allegations in this case involved the former men's basketball coaching staff and their conduct in the commission of violations, the provision of false and misleading information about them, and the inducement of others to do the same.
And Lane Kiffin skates, but not before the committee on infractions took a couple of shots at the former football head coach. Though the committee also probably didn't want to hammer Tennessee football for the actions of a former coach. Or they could have just decided that having Kiffin as head coach was punishment enough.
In the sport of football, it was alleged that major violations occurred in the conduct of the program, including recruiting activities undertaken by student interns. The committee concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support findings of major violations. However, the committee was troubled by the number and nature of the secondary infractions by the football coaching staff during its one-year tenure at the institution. From January 2009 through October 2009 the staff committed 12 violations, all connected to recruiting. Some of the violations received nationwide publicity and brought the football program into public controversy. This is not a record of which to be proud.
But, guys, it was all part of the plan.
The full report is here.