Exclusive: Pearl Endures ESPN Employ Embargo

Terrelle Pryor’s escape from the burning building that is the Ohio State football program straight onto an ESPN set is firmly esconced in the long, illustrious history of unintentionally comedic ESPN programming decisions.

Bruce Pearl

But while Pryor was deified by ESPN mere hours after the extra-beneficiary torched future OSU football fortunes, the same can’t be said for another notorious NCAA arsonist: former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl.

June 8, ESPN.com college basketball reporter Andy Katz reported:

Pearl’s next move might be in broadcasting, regardless of the outcome of the COI hearing, although that won’t likely occur until there is a final decision.

Katz should know, as his own company has officially embargoed Pearl’s employ.

In the past month, two ESPN management sources have told me that ESPN programming executive Norby Williamson has made known that Pearl won’t be hired anytime soon because of his pending NCAA issues.

Ironic considering ..

1) .. the open arms ESPN extended to Pryor moments after he was unceremoniously expelled by perhaps the most revered institution in college sports because of his admitted commission of NCAA violations.

2) .. the circumstances surrounding Lou Holtz’s ESPN hire in 2005, which virtually mirror Pearl’s current situation.

After Holtz quit as South Carolina football coach following the 2004 season, ESPN announced on Aug. 10, 2005, the former coach would be joining the sports network as a studio analyst - despite the fact that the NCAA was mulling penalties at that time for Holtz’s former football program.

On August 25, 2005, South Carolina’s football program was cited for numerous NCAA violations by the same Committee on Infractions Pearl faced on June 10. But unlike Pearl, Holtz was hired by ESPN despite his school facing pending NCAA violations and sanctions that occured on his watch.

The last three Lou Holtz-coached college football programs were hit with NCAA sanctions after Holtz left those schools. Holtz was cited in each case by the NCAA for his role in NCAA violations at Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina.

3) … the agent of Craig James has been verified as one of the keepers of the SMU player payroll while James was on the team, though James claims to this day that he committed no NCAA violations while a Mustang.

Craig James worked for Sherwood Blount

So why the double-standard?  One ESPN management source said Norby Williamson’s close relationship with Bob Knight, who despises Bruce Pearl, was to blame for the suddenly-enacted, revisionist policy.

Another ESPN source lamented, “welcome to ESPN.”

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