Bruce Pearl has telephone ready for when NCAA penalties cease

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Auburn men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl has his hand on the dial, so to speak.

After three years of being unable to call recruits, Pearl's time in purgatory will be over next week when a NCAA show-cause penalty ends on Aug. 24.

The restrictions were placed on Pearl for violations he committed while serving as the Tennessee Volunteers' spirited coach known for his sideline antics.

But starting next week, Pearl will be free to interact with prospects, their families and coaches, like almost every other top Division I coach in America.

Previously his assistant coaches and trainers were forced to hit the recruiting trail without him, which was a serious disadvantage in a competitive college basketball playing field.

That is a big deal, prompting Pearl to say that he will be making calls as soon as the clock strikes midnight.

"It'll be a fun night. My coaching staff will all be with me when Midnight strikes and I got a lot of calls to make," Pearl told the Montgomery Advertiser. "I got a lot of catching up to do. But I'll be grateful when it's behind me."

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Bringing recruits to him

Pearl will start the process with calls, but ultimately, he'll need to see recruits in person for the first time in years.

That's why Auburn will host an Elite Camp from 1 to 4 p.m. the following Sunday, a perfect chance for eighth grade students all the way up to high school seniors to perform in front of the newly-freed coach.

It will be an important change in the recruiting process.

Pearl told the Advertiser earlier this year that he has lost prospective players in the past because they knew they wouldn't be able to meet or talk to him.

Despite an energetic and well-known personality on the sidelines, Pearl wasn't given the opportunity to show that personal touch with recruits. It would take a leap of faith for them to simply join based on what they had seen on television and from conversations with his assistants.

The man who would ultimately hold their scholarships and pro-hoops dreams in his hand would be nothing more than a name and a reputation before that first day of practices.

That's why Pearl has had a competitive disadvantage since serving his sentence. It's just hard to recruit without showing your face.

The sanctions

There were multiple NCAA violations which led to Pearl's ousting at Tennessee.

Pearl wooed high school junior Aaron Craft, who would later play at Ohio State, during a cookout at his Knoxville home despite it being a clear violation of NCAA rules. He later lied to the NCAA about it and encouraged others to lie as well.

Other violations compounded the issue and when a player was found to have violated the school's substance abuse policy, Tennessee decided to fire Pearl.

He was handed a three-year show-cause penalty for lying to the NCAA a few months later, which specifically prohibited him from contacting recruits.

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