Pearl gets extension, hefty raise

Bruce Pearl has come a long way from the $65,000 he earned as a first-head coach at Southern Indiana.

Pearl and Tennessee agreed to a six-year, $7.8 million deal Wednesday night that makes him the third-highest paid coach in the SEC. The annual average is $1.3 million.

It is by far the richest contract ever paid to a UT basketball coach and the first time one has joined the million-dollar club.

Mike Hamilton, UT men's athletic director, said recently he wasn't sure the UT Board of Trustees would approve a six-year deal. But Pearl's brilliant coaching job and revitalization of the men's program apparently won the Board over.

Pearl took a team that was 14-17, 6-12 in SEC play and won the SEC East division with a 12-4 mark, tied for UT's best since the league expanded in 1992. UT attracted six crowds over more than 20,000 and averaged almost 18,000 in home attendance, compared to 12,223 last year. The turnstile average was around 16,000, about double last year's turnstile of roughly 8,000.

Pearl's bonus structure was redone to pay him a flat amount, rather than a percentage of his base pay, which climbs from $225,000 to $300,000.

Pearl's yearly salary goes from $1.1 million to $1.2 million to $1.275 million to $1.325 million to $1.4 million to $1.5 million his final year. His base pay will go from $300,000 the first year to $375,000 the final year.

The breakdown the first year of the next contract: $300,000 base, $300,000 TV-radio, $300,000 endorsements, $150,000 public relations, $50,000 guarantee for camp.

In the previous contract, Pearl got 16 percent of his base pay for making the NCAA Tournament, 20 percent for winning the East Division, 24 percent for winning the SEC tournament or regular season title or making the Sweet 16, 28 percent for getting into the Final Four and 32 percent for winning the national championship.

Under the new deal, Pearl gets $75,000 for winning the SEC tournament or regular season title, $100,000 for making the Final Four, $250,000 for winning the national title. He also will get a $25,000 bonus if he is named SEC Coach of the Year and a $50,000 bonus for national Coach of the Year. Pearl gets the highest bonus, not an accumulation of bonuses.

Pearl's buyout will be $1 million, double his previous amount. Pearl had a $192,000 buyout when he left Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

For the first time in years, the UT men's basketball coach will make more than Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, whose salary of $824,500 ranks second in women's basketball to Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma's $900,000.

Summitt was asked Wednesday night what she thought of Pearl's new deal.

``I'm glad to see the University do what it needed to do to keep Bruce Pearl,'' she said.

Asked if she's offended by a first-year coach making more, Summitt said: ``I have feelings about that.''

She declined to say what those feelings are, instead saying her focus is on coaching her team in the NCAA Tournament.

``The University has always taken good care of me,'' Summitt said.

Summitt indicated her 32 years as a UT coach and six national championships should be taken into consideration.

Joan Cronan, UT women's athletic director, said earlier she felt Summitt should make at least as much as the men's coach, given Summitt's tenure and success.

Whether that becomes a public debate or is resolved behind closed doors remains to be seen. But one source close to the program said Summitt would not make as much as Pearl because of the market value for a men's coach versus a women's basketball coach and because of the huge difference in the revenues derived by the men's and women's programs at Tennessee.

The men generated $4.7 million in net revenues last year while the women's figure was about $470,000. The men will derive at least $1 million more based on the huge increase in attendance and concession sales while the women's number will stay about the same.

UT President Dr. John Peterson did not return calls Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss the Pearl-Summitt contract situation. He was in meetings in Nashville.


Fulmer's new contract, signed in January 2005, has the following bonus structure: $37,500 for playing in a bowl, $50,000 for winning or tying for the East Division, $75,000 for playing in the SEC championship game, $100,000 for winning the SEC or making a BCS bowl, $150,000 or playing in the BCS national championship game, $250,000 for winning a national title.


Upon further review, the UT men's and women's combined attendance was easily the best in the nation.

The men (17,954) and women (15,364) combined to average 33,318, more than 5,000 ahead of any other school.

Kentucky was second at just under 28,000. The Wildcats averaged 22,763 for men, 5,161 for women. North Carolina averaged 20,240 for men, 3,708 for women. UConn averaged 13,949 for men, 11,764 for women with one game remaining. The Louisville men averaged 19,044, the women 2,521. Ohio State men averaged 15,390, the women 5,261.

The Lady Vols led the nation in attendance while the Vols were fifth, behind Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse and Louisville.

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