Illinois basketball fans have had their share of frustrations this year. But they may be getting some good news from an unexpected source -- the NCAA.
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel claims that Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl will not be able to survive the fallout from the NCAA's investigation of Tennessee's football and men's basketball programs. For those too young to remember, Pearl was the main institigator of the NCAA investigation into the UI's successful recruitment more than 20 years ago of Deon Thomas.
It's a long, complicated story. But the bottom line is that allegations against Illinois prompted by Pearl ultimately were dismissed, but NCAA investigators and officials were so enraged and/or embarrassed by their failed investigation that they put Illinois on probation for a lack of institutional control. What was amazing is that although Illinois was charged with numerous major violations, it was never charged with a lack of institutional control. The NCAA ultimately dismissed the major charges it filed against Illinois but then found Illinois guilty of an offense it never charged and that Illinois never had a chance to refute.
The NCAA sanctions crippled former coach Lou Henson's basketball program just as the Illini were reaching their peak in hoops. Since then, Pearl has been Public Enemy No. 1. People here won't be sorry if he goes down when the final resolution is announced.