But ex-Volunteers football Coach Lane Kiffin, now Southern California's mentor, was cleared of major violations.
Pearl, who was fired in March, was given a three-year "show-cause" penalty while ex-assistants Tony Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay all received one-year penalties, the NCAA announced.
The sanctions mean any school giving Pearl or others jobs in which they were allowed to participate in recruiting during the period could be sanctioned.
"Although we do not agree with every aspect of the (NCAA) decision, we appreciate the efforts of the enforcement staff and the committee to resolve this case in a timely and reasonable manner," Stu Brown, attorney for the three, said in a statement.
Kiffin had also been investigated but was found not to have committed any major infractions while at Tennessee.
"As I have said before, we always have been committed to following NCAA rules and bylaws both at Tennessee and now at USC, and we always will be," Kiffin said in a statement. "Now that this has reached its conclusion, I am looking forward to continuing to prepare our team for the upcoming season."