Coach Bruce Pearl Firing "Package" A Head-Shaker

At this moment on the cusp of the Sweet 16, it strikes us as flat-out absurd how much big-time college basketball and football coaches continue to rake in, no matter what the economy is doing to most of the rest of us.  

Yup, we know that those salaries generally aren't funded by state taxpayers, but by private donations (think fat cats and sneaker companies) and ticket sales, but we don't care.

The reason for this little rant comes in the aftermath of yesterday's inevitable firing of Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl was canned after he got caught lying like a bad little boy to the NCAA during a probe into recruiting violations.

Actually, it seems like the successful coach was going to survive to see another season until his employers got wind of similar improprieties in recent weeks and months--after he was publicly bitch-slapped for the earlier lies. (It didn't help Pearl that his team got beat by 30 points in its first game in the NCAA's last week.)

We have nothing against the guy--in fact, we had a pleasant chat with him in Israel in 2009 where he spent a few weeks coaching the U.S. men's basketball team in the Maccabiah Games. He's quite charismatic and charming.

But here's what got us thinking WTF: The dude is going to collect $948,748 of salary and benefits as part of getting terminated for being a liar and a cheat.

Nice "severance package" for what he did to the university and his program, which now faces major NCAA sanctions, huh? That, on top of whatever gig he lands after an appropriate period of time on unofficial double-secret probation.

FYI, Arizona's Sean Miller, now the toast of Arizona (all but diehard ASU fans, that is) as his Wildcats prepare to play the Duke Blue Devils on Thursday night in the Sweet 16, signed a five-year contract in 2009 that made him the highest-paid employee at the university.

Miller makes $2 million a year (about 75 percent of it from athletic department funds and the rest from Nike and a sports entertainment company, IMG). His contract also includes the use of two cars, a country club membership and other sweet perks.

Miller struck that deal with the Arizona Board of Regents before he ever coached a game for Arizona.

Up here at ASU, football coach Dennis Erickson makes about $1.5 million annually, or about $250,000 a win leading his decidedly mediocre program to it usual five or six victories.

Sun Devils' basketball coach Herb Sendek, who we think the world of (too bad his players couldn't shoot as straight as he does this past season!), earns $1.1 million a year, a relative bargain compared to his old pal (Miller) from down south.

We're just saying....


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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin