''I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Knoxville, my staff and the players that I have had the privilege to coach since arriving at UT. Knoxville has been a very special place for me and my family. This was a place that we were thankful to call home and were looking forward to doing so for years to come. We love the Knoxville community, its schools and churches. But, most of all, we have enjoyed the friendships we have developed in our four years here. Wherever my career takes me and my family, Knoxville will always hold fond memories for the Peterson's.
''Although I am very sadden and disappointed in Mr. Hamilton's decision not to give me the opportunity to continue to coach at the University of Tennessee. I will not let that decision cloud some wonderful relationships that I have developed in the UT family. I want to thank Pat Summitt and Phillip Fulmer for their support and friendship throughout my tenure with the Volunteers. I will be forever humbled by their efforts on my behalf over the past few weeks. Likewise, I am appreciative of the efforts of Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Larry Brown, Tubby Smith, Todd Helton and Peyton Manning. I want to specifically thank Doug Dickey for giving me the chance to coach here at Tennessee and for the support both he and his wife JoAnne have given me and my family.
''I will coach again someday in another place. Coaching is my passion and my life's work. My faith will get me through this and through my faith I know that God will take care of me and my family. However, I will not get a chance to walk into Thompson-Boling Arena and coach the wonderful young men that I leave here at Tennessee. To those players I wish the very best and want them to know that they will be in my heart always.''