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Pearl not certain to return to Volunteers

NO NEWS: PG Kyrie Irving’s status is still unknown as Duke begins play Friday.

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NO NEWS: PG Kyrie Irving’s status is still unknown as Duke begins play Friday.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton said he does not know if Bruce Pearl will be coach after this season ends.

In an interview with WNML-AM in Knoxville that aired Wednesday, Hamilton said he, the UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and school trustees will evaluate Pearl after the season ends. The ninth-seeded Vols play eighth-seeded Michigan on Friday in the NCAA Tournament.

"We don't know the answer today," Hamilton said when asked if Pearl would be coach next season. "We've done a lot of soul searching about the direction of our program, and we'll continue to do that, and we'll decide after we're out of the NCAA Tournament what direction it is that we're going to go next."

Pearl has been working without a contract since revealing in September that he misled NCAA investigators during a probe into recruiting. The NCAA charged him with unethical conduct and other violations, though the NCAA has not released a final ruling on the matter.

PRESIDENT RIDES NO. 1'S: President Barack Obama picked each of the four No. 1 seeds to advance to the Final Four.

For the third straight year, Obama filled out an NCAA Tournament bracket for ESPN.com. He said Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Pittsburgh will make the Final Four and picked Kansas, the top seed in the Southwest, over the No. 1 overall seed Buckeyes for the national championship.

"Kansas has more firepower," Obama told ESPN.

SPLIT LOYALTIES: There's no shortage of people filling out multiple NCAA Tournament brackets.

LeBron James is among them.

The NBA's two-time reigning MVP said he still wants Ohio State — his longtime favorite school and a team that wears his sneakers and apparel — to win the NCAA title. But on his website, James picked Duke to win it all.

"It's all fun," James said. "I love March Madness."

PULLEN ILL BUT OKAY: Kansas State star G Jacob Pullen came down ill and didn't practice, but the school said he's expected to recover in time to play today against Utah State. The senior leads the Wildcats with 19.5 points per game.

BRUINS MIFFED: UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said the school is "extremely disappointed" that the original round center section of basketball court at Pauley Pavilion is to be auctioned. The 12-foot jump circle was used from 1965-82 by the men's teams that won eight national championships and the women's team that won the 1978 national title.

TV RATINGS: College basketball fans found truTV on the first day of the new-look NCAA Tournament. The First Four matchup between No. 12 seeds Clemson and Alabama-Birmingham on Tuesday drew 1.35 million viewers on the cable network. The earlier game between No. 16 seeds UNC-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock drew 1.2 million. Last year's opening game between No. 16 seeds Winthrop and Arkansas-Pine Bluff drew 1.05 million on ESPN.

Pearl not certain to return to Volunteers 03/16/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 9:48pm]
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