(As was the title of a series of love letters by Thomas Jefferson to his lover, Maria Cosway, in France during the 1780s, during which time Jefferson served as Minister to the embattled country in the years prior to the French Revolution, the firing of former Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl serves as a dialogue between my head and heart. My head tells me that the university made the right move in firing Pearl due to his lying to the NCAA, despite the constant meddling in athletic affairs by the university's biggest athletics booster and former Vols football player from the 1951 National Championship season, Jim Haslam. Yet, my heart hurts because the void left by him will be difficult, if not impossible, to fill. -Dagan81)
All 13 Lady Volunteers played before halftime and all of them scored by the final buzzer Saturday during a 99-34 win Tags: highlight, NCAA Tournament
KNOXVILLE -- Bruce Pearl, who led Tennessee to an unprecedented six straight NCAA Tournament appearances, is out as the Vols' head basketball coach, sources told ESPN.com.
The university has yet to announce Pearl's ouster, but sources said that Pearl was informed of the decision on Monday.
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According to sources, it was ultimately Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek's call to fire Pearl. It's also expected that Cheek will be heavily involved in the search for Tennessee's next coach and will play a leading role on the search committee.
All that remains is to finalize a financial settlement for Pearl and his assistants.
Pearl met with Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton on Monday morning, and the parameters of the proposed settlement were outlined during that meeting.
Later Monday afternoon, Pearl and all of his assistants met with Hamilton for a final time in Hamilton's office for about 20 minutes.
A source said that Houston Fancher will serve as interim head coach until Pearl's replacement is hired. Fancher is the former head coach at Appalachian State and was the Vols' director of video scouting this past season.
Pearl has been working without a contract since October after his old contract was terminated following the university's receipt of an official letter of inquiry in September from the NCAA. Contractually, Tennessee isn't obligated to pay Pearl a buyout.
Tennessee officials, including Cheek and Hamilton, had been staunchly in Pearl's corner throughout the season. At one point, Hamilton said the university was prepared to stand behind Pearl even if he were suspended by the NCAA for a year.
But the tide began to shift as the regular season came to a close. Sources told ESPN.com there was a growing concern the basketball program would be hammered by the NCAA with severe sanctions if Pearl were still the Vols' coach when they appeared in front of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions in June.
Hamilton backed off his support for Pearl last week when he went on a Knoxville radio talk show and said the "jury was still out" on whether Pearl would be back next season as Tennessee's coach. Hamilton said there had been a lot of "soul searching" on whether that was the right thing to do -- a total departure from his past comments. [+] EnlargeAP Photo/Bob LeveroneBruce Pearl's last game as Tennessee's coach came Friday in a loss to Michigan in the NCAA tournament.
The Vols were routed 75-45 by Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Pearl's final game as coach, which came just two days after Pearl received his vote of no-confidence from Hamilton.
Pearl said after the game that he planned to be accountable for the mistakes he had made but his "goal and desire is to be the basketball coach at Tennessee next year and for a long time."
In a tearful news conference on Sept. 10, Pearl acknowledged that he had given investigators false information when asked about a cookout at his home attended by high school juniors. Pearl was charged with unethical conduct by the NCAA for misleading investigators and the NCAA has since charged the Tennessee basketball and football programs with a dozen violations.
However, failing to notify Tennessee of another possible recruiting violation that occurred just four days after the tearful news conference may have ultimately caused Pearl to lose the support of his bosses.
Tennessee officials learned from the NCAA in December that Pearl would be charged with a violation of the NCAA's "bump rule" after speaking with a high school junior on a recruiting trip to Georgia on Sept. 14.
Pearl, who had a 145-61 record, leaves the school as a popular coach. An unscientific online poll conducted by The Knoxville News Sentinel after Tennessee received its notice of allegations from the NCAA on Feb. 24 showed 70 percent of the 9,600 respondents still supported Pearl. Fans gathered Sunday in a rally to show support, and Knoxville businesses displayed messages supporting Pearl on Monday.
He promoted Tennessee in a way no other coach had before with antics like appearing at a Lady Vols basketball game with his bare chest painted orange. The fans responded with boosted attendance at Vols games, which prompted athletics officials to upgrade the school's cavernous Thompson-Boling Arena and build a new basketball practice facility.
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Pearl also contributed to the Knoxville community in a way his predecessors hadn't. He led Tennessee's annual Outlive campaign to raise money for cancer prevention programs and research and endowed a scholarship in the name of former Vol Dane Bradshaw.
Pearl was hired in March 2006 to replace Buzz Peterson, who had gone 61-59 and neglected to reach the NCAA tournament in four seasons at Tennessee. Pearl had just led Wisconsin-Milwaukee to Sweet Sixteen and finished 51-13 overall after four seasons.
In six seasons, Pearl, 51, led the Volunteers to their first No. 1 ranking in 2008 and first NCAA tournament regional finals appearance, missing out on a trip to the 2010 Final Four by a single point.
He spent six years as an assistant at Iowa under the tutelage of coach Tom Davis. It was during his Iowa tenure that Pearl recorded a phone conversation with recruit Deon Thomas about Thomas' recruitment by rival Illinois. Pearl turned the recording over to the NCAA, which investigated and uncovered unrelated recruiting violations by Illinois.
Pearl also spent nine seasons at Southern Indiana, leading the Screaming Eagles to the 1995 Division II national championship. Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Chris Low on Twitter: @ESPN_SEC