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Life for Tennessee hoops post-Bruce Pearl continues to be rocky

Tennessee fired Bruce Pearl in 2011 so it wouldn't look like a dirty program. Now they've hired a new head coach with NCAA violations in his past and more appearing to be on the way in his future.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, a report from Bleacher Report's Jason King revealed Southern Mississippi is being investigated by the NCAA for potential rules violations involving "Prop 48" recruits during the Donnie Tyndall era.

You'll have to excuse Tennessee basketball fans if they're reacting poorly to your "keep calm" advice.

Tyndall was brought to Knoxville in April with the hope of bringing the Volunteers back to the place they were under former head coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl, of course, was controversially fired in 2011 after his recruiting violations were unearthed by the NCAA and he was caught lying about it. The firing was controversial primarily because Pearl had taken Tennessee to a place most die-hard fans in Knoxville didn't think was possible, not necessarily because his actions didn't warrant the dismissal.

The contingent of Volunteer fans still upset over the way the program parted ways with Pearl only grew louder in April when athletic director Dave Hart tabbed Tyndall, who got Morehead State placed on probation in 2010, as the replacement for the surprisingly departed Cuonzo Martin. Martin had just taken UT to its first Sweet 16 since 2010, but he'd failed to galvanize the fan base in the same manner that Pearl had, a fact which frustrated all parties involved and ultimately led to the head coach bolting for Cal Berkeley.

Tyndall's hire was met with mixed reactions, but quickly landing three well-regarded recruits from the class of 2015 helped sway some of the naysayers. Now it appears any momentum he had built over the last seven months is about to come to a screeching halt because, as one source told King, "the sh-t is about to hit the fan."

According to King's report, Tyndall brought several "Prop 48" players -- recruits who had been deemed ineligible by the NCAA coming out of high school or junior college -- to Southern Miss and had them enroll in classes while they waited to become eligible to receive scholarships. The players, who were almost all from out-of-state, lived in off-campus apartments and took classes until they earned the necessary credits to become eligible. The problem is that no one seems to know how all of this was paid for.

There's no knowledge of exactly who the NCAA is investigating, but it is worth noting that three players on Southern Mississippi's 2014-15 roster -- Shadell Millinghaus, Matt Bingaya and Davon Hayes -- are former Prop 48 recruits who have now been deemed ineligible. There's no word on when or if a notice of allegations is coming from the NCAA, but it's safe to say that this isn't a good look for Tyndall, Southern Miss or Tennessee.

The first piece of fallout came almost immediately on Thursday as the most prominent of Tyndall's three class of 2015 commitments, four-star guard Chris Clarke, announced that he was switching his pledge of allegiance to Virginia Tech. That's a pretty large first blow, and it's probably not going to be the last one before this situation is resolved.

Post-Pearl life had already been rough enough for UT hoops fans, but dealing with this while their former head coach prepares to take over at conference rival Auburn has to feel like a vinegar drenched thumb in an open wound.

It'd be easily to classify the initial reactions from the Volunteers' online community as an "overreaction," but all things considered, it actually feels pretty understandable.