Pearl says no to Iowa

As you might have expected, Iowa University officials asked for permission to talk to Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl. But it didn't take long for Pearl to end speculation that he might return to the team where he was an assistant coach (1986-92).

``It's over and done with," Pearl told late Tuesday morning.

Pearl said he spoke with Iowa officials, including athletic director Gary Barta, via telephone Tuesday morning. He said they outlined a financial package, trying to find a replacement for Steve Alford, who left for New Mexico.

``I thanked them for their interest," said Pearl, who has won 46 games in two seasons at Tennessee in leading the Vols to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments.

``I love Tennessee. I want to stay here my entire career. I have no interest in going anywhere."

Pearl said Iowa outlined a financial package. A source said the offer was more than what Tennessee is paying.

``It's not about the money," said Pearl, whose average salary over the next five years will be $1.3 million. ``It's about principles. Sometimes you talk it. Sometimes you walk it. I have an opportunity to walk it."

Did Iowa offer Pearl the job?

``It never got to that point," he said. Pearl said he talked to Iowa officials out of respect to Barta.

``The most important thing for me is, I appreciate the loyalty and support from the fans and when I can demonstrate loyalty to them, I'm going to demonstrate it," Pearl said. ``I'm very lucky to be here. I'm very happy to be here."

Mike Hamilton, UT men's athletic director, said Iowa is the only school that has asked for permission to speak to Pearl at this point.

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