Pearl wants to leave legacy at UT

Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl doesn't sound a like a coach who will shop around for another job. He took just a few minutes to tell Iowa he wasn't interested. He enjoyed coaching his son this past season. And he would like to build a legacy in Knoxville.

``I look at Phillip Fulmer,'' Pearl said. ``He is the face of Tennessee football. Same thing with Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols. Same thing with most of the other great sports teams – what Coach (Ray) Mears did here what Coach (Don) DeVoe did here.

``That is in my reach. I can put up enough victories in a time frame if I can keep my health and continue to stay sharp and do a good job. In 10, 15 years from now, someday, I could build something here where it's got my name on it.

``That is important to me. When you work as hard we work and are as passionate as we are, that record matters.''

Pearl pointed out that his entire family is in Knoxville. He's got a son and daughter attending UT. He's got two middle school kids.

``I think this will be a place where hopefully the Pearls can make their home,'' said Pearl, adding that he wants to have grandchildren living in this area at some point.

``Those are the things you start thinking about when you're 47 years old. Believe me, I've given some thought to where I'm going to lay my hat and where they're going to bury me some day.''

Then, Pearl added with a laugh: ``They told me when I took this job, they said, `Coach they're going to bury you at Tennessee.'

``I knew that was the case, but I want them to bury me in 20 years, not two or three.''


Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt made more money last year than any women's coach in any sport in history.

Summitt already has the highest salary for a women's basketball coach. Her six-year, $7.8 million deal averages $1.3 million a year. She made $1.125 last year with a $250,000 bonus for winning the national championship. She got another $25,000 for being named SEC Coach of the Year. And she will get another $50,000 bonus if her team meets certain academic criteria.

That would put her at $1.45 million.

Will her contract be restructured after winning her seventh national title?

That's unlikely.

``We worked hard on a contract designed to where we don't restructure it every year,'' said Joan Cronan, women's athletic director. ``It has some of the best bonus structures in the country.''

Summitt has built-in raises of $50,000 to $100,000 per year that top out at $1.5 million the last year of the deal. Cronan wasn't sure if Summitt's $250,000 national title bonus was the highest in the nation.

Cronan also said she agrees with NCAA president Myles Brand that the women's Final Four should start the week after the conclusion of the men's Final Four.

That means starting the women's season a week later, playing the SEC Tournament a week after the men's tourney and competing with the Masters. Cronan thinks the games could be scheduled so as not to conflict with the Masters.

Cronan said such a change couldn't be adopted for two or three years.

Meanwhile, Pearl, who has a deal similar to Summitt's, might get a new deal after Iowa pursued him. Pearl has not only made a significant difference in interest and attendance but he's made a significant difference in revenue.

The year before Pearl was hired, Tennessee generated $2.4 million in ticket revenue and about $450,000 in concessions. Last year, UT generated $3.7 million in ticket sales and $840,000 in concessions.

That's a difference of about $1.7 million since Pearl was hired.

Considering his salary this past season was $1.1 million, he's been well worth the money he's making. By the way, Pearl has a $1 million buyout.


Former Vol Dane Bradshaw said he's often asked which former UT players would have benefited the most by playing in Pearl's system.

``The first player that comes to mind is Scooter McFadgon, to really get him going and reach his full potential,'' Bradshaw said. ``He did great things for us, but to have Coach Pearl's motivation behind him and to have him play more freely on offense, I think he would have been a happier player, for lack of a better word.''

Bradshaw also thinks Vincent Yarbrough, Ron Slay and Marcus Haislip would have prospered under Pearl's tutelage.

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