Bruce Pearl barred from criticizing UT

After months of public statements to the contrary -- remember when Tennessee seemed so devoted to its maligned coach? -- Volunteers athletic director Mike Hamilton fired Bruce Pearl. The dynamics behind this firing was complicated and by all accounts acrimonious. Pearl seemed to expect his school's continued support, and he was reportedly surprised and hurt when that support suddenly vanished in the wake of yet more revelations about his conduct before and during the NCAA's investigation into his alleged violations.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely we'll ever hear Pearl's side of the story. That's because Pearl is "contractually obligated to adhere to restrictions and stipulations which include not making any disparaging remarks about UT or face up to $50,000 in fines," according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

That's why you haven't heard Pearl say anything about Tennessee or Hamilton since the settlement agreement was signed in March, and why Pearl isn't likely to start making any such comments now. The agreement also requires cooperation with the NCAA Committee on Infractions -- Tennessee had its hearing Saturday, and hey, Lane Kiffin showed up! -- and prevents Pearl from any future legal action against Tennessee whether Pearl was aware of the hypothetical claim at the time of the settlement agreement signing or not.

In other words, when Pearl emerges from this mess -- and he is likely to do so, albeit not anywhere near a college hoops team -- it's unlikely we're going to hear much from him about his final days as Tennessee's coach. That's not unusual, but Tennessee fans, many of whom believed Pearl shouldn't have been fired in the first place -- or believe Hamilton deserved to be fired with him -- may well be disappointed at the news.