Bruce Pearl will be OK because Jim Calhoun got off easy.
That opinion has made the rounds the past 24 hours.
|The NCAA is taking a harsh stance with lying to investigators, which Bruce Pearl has admitted doing. (Getty Images)|
Oh, I understand why lots of people assume that's true. You see Calhoun get suspended for only three Big East games despite overseeing a basketball program that was caught using a booster/agent to secure a high-level prospect, and you start to figure there's nothing that can't be overcome. I mean, if Calhoun only gets a three-game suspension for aggressively recruiting and enrolling a prospect who took more than $6,000 in impermissible benefits from a former Connecticut manager, what's Pearl gonna get for having a few high school juniors over to the house for a cookout?
Half a game?
Maybe 30 minutes?
Again, I get why some might think that way. But the mistake those people are making is that they're focusing on the wrong UConn coach. You want to know what's in store for Pearl when the Tennessee case reaches the punishment phase? Don't look at Calhoun. Look at former UConn operations director Beau Archibald, who was charged with unethical conduct (just like Pearl) for providing "false and misleading" information to the NCAA enforcement staff (just like Pearl).
A two-year show-cause order.
That basically means he's out of college basketball for at least two years.
Archibald's punishment was the latest bit of evidence that suggests there's almost nothing the NCAA takes more seriously than lying to its enforcement staff, which is something Dez Bryant's football suspension at Oklahoma State taught us in 2009.
|Tennessee and the NCAA|
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On that note, I should remind you of what NCAA president Mark Emmert told me in December during a meeting in Indianapolis when I asked whether coaches who lie to the enforcement staff (like Archibald and Pearl did) should be punished similarly to student-athletes who lie to the enforcement staff (like Bryant did).
"We certainly want to uphold the standards for coaches -- who are the teacher and the authority figure in that relationship -- to at least the same standards that we hold our students," Emmert said.
That is why I wasn't surprised when Archibald was hit with a two-year show-cause order for providing "false and misleading" information. True to Emmert's word, that's "at least the same" level of punishment that Bryant (10 games missed) got for providing false and misleading information. In fact, it's more. And it's precisely why Pearl shouldn't be celebrating what happened to Connecticut this week.
Bottom line, Pearl isn't likely to be treated like Calhoun.
He's more like Archibald in this equation.
Right or wrong, that's true.
Did Pearl use an agent to enroll a prospect or commit a recruiting violation on par with the ones Calhoun smashed? No. But he admittedly lied to the enforcement staff when asked about illegal contact with a recruit, and, in the NCAA's eyes, that's the more serious transgression, by far.