Plenty of reasons Bruce Pearl has his job

The votes of confidence Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl got from his bosses were publicly delivered during the news conference in which he admitted to providing misleading information to NCAA investigators.

"I'm glad he's our basketball coach," athletic director Mike Hamilton said.

"Bruce is our coach," stated chancellor Jimmy Cheek.

What was left unsaid was the financial incentive that the school has for not firing Pearl -- at least for now.

Andy Katz reports that according to Pearl's contract, the coach cannot be fired for cause and not be paid until the NCAA makes a finding and it is shown that Pearl knowingly engaged in a "significant violation" of NCAA rules.

It's this specific language in the contract that appears to makes Pearl practically bulletproof until the NCAA acts. Just ask attorney Joseph Murray, who helped Jim O'Brien get millions from Ohio State based on similar wording in a contract.

Murray said Tennessee would have a problem since the wording is "significant" not "secondary" or "major violation," meaning there would have to be a determination if the violation had a significant impact on the program and university.

"If they decide to terminate they may have to pay and they can't do it now, they have to wait until there is a finding and even then it's not just finding a violation, that won't do it, it has to be a significant violation," Murray said. "Word choice is a big deal here. ..."

"At this point he has corrected it, he's gone to the NCAA," Murray said. "He did what the NCAA wants if you make a mistake, you correct it. I'm not sure you could impose unethical conduct on someone who corrected their mistake. He shouldn't be penalized as severely as someone who didn't correct it."

So if Tennessee officials are hopping mad at Pearl and can't wait to get rid of him, they'll have to bite their tongues for now.

Holding off on the pink slip, after all, might save them an awful lot of green.