KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl has acknowledged providing misleading and incorrect information to the NCAA during a 17-month investigation into possible recruiting violations.
And Tennessee is making him pay for his actions.
Vols athletic director Mike Hamilton is reducing Pearl's pay by $1.5 million over five years and prohibiting him from participating in off-campus recruiting for a year beginning Sept 24.
"I've made some serious mistakes, and for that I'm truly sorry," a tearful Pearl said during a Friday news conference. "I provided incorrect and misleading information to the NCAA. I've learned some invaluable lessons. After I provided the false and misleading information, subsequently I went back and corrected the record.
"I learned that it's not OK to tell the truth most of the time, but you've got to tell the truth all of the time," he said.
Hamilton said Friday that Pearl provided the information while being interviewed in June about allegations of excessive phone calls made to recruits. Pearl notified officials three weeks later that he had provided the NCAA incorrect information.
The coach did not explain why he provided incorrect information, but acknowledged that by doing so he made what might have been a minor situation much worse.
Hamilton also reduced each of Pearl's assistant coaches' salaries by 25 percent. Beginning Sept. 24, assistant coach Jason Shay will not be permitted to recruit off campus for three months, associate head coach Tony Jones will be prohibited from off-campus recruiting for nine months and assistant Steve Forbes will be prohibited from off-campus recruiting for a year.
"I don't believe these sanctions are going to prevent us from being competitive," Pearl said to an audience that included his Vols players and Lady Volunteers coach Pat Summitt. "I think our team will respond to this adversity."
It's more negative attention for Tennessee, which saw four men's basketball players arrested on gun and drug charges in January and two football players arrested in July following a massive bar brawl.
The university received a letter from the NCAA on Friday, notifying the Volunteers of an official investigation into the entire athletic department, including possible recruiting violations under former football coach Lane Kiffin.
NCAA Vice President of Enforcement David Price said in the letter that the NCAA hopes to have the investigation completed by December.
The NCAA has interviewed several current and former Tennessee football assistant coaches and recruits about possible violations last season. Tennessee self-reported six minor recruiting violations by Kiffin and his staff during their one-year tenure and in December acknowledged cooperating with an NCAA investigation into actions by the school's Orange Pride athletics hostess program.
"The receipt of this letter represents the next step toward the conclusion of this process," Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley said in a statement. "We have high standards in all aspects of the Tennessee football program, and we are steadfast in operating this program with an unwavering commitment to compliance with NCAA rules."
Hamilton said he hopes the NCAA will take into account the punishments he's levied against the coaching staff when it concludes its investigation and decides on any additional penalty. Attorney Mike Glazier has been hired to assist the university during the investigation.
Hamilton said he was unable to find a similar case from another athletic program where a coach acknowledged wrongdoing before being punished by the NCAA.
"There needs to be more of that in college athletics," the athletic director said. "I hope part of what you get out of this today is this is a person that stood up and did the right thing in the end by coming back forward and saying, 'I want to correct this.'
"I can tell you my interaction with him during that process, it was clearly something he initiated and was concerned about."