Pearl reaches agreement

Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl has reached an agreement in principle and expects to sign a new deal next week. ``There was no negotiating,'' Pearl said Friday while out of town recruiting. ``I accepted what was offered.''

Pearl is expected to get a raise to about $1.3 million per season. He signed a new deal last year that would pay him $6.8 million over six years, an average of $1.3 million. The first year of the deal paid him $1.1million. The second year was to pay him $1.2 million, but he will get about $100,000 more than that figure, plus an improved bonus package.

``I am satisfied with the offer and I think it's fair,'' Pearl said. ``I've worked my whole life to be in a situation like this. I'm very, very blessed. I never dreamed I'd be compensated like this.''

Pearl said he talked to men's athletic director Mike Hamilton about where the program is, where it needs to be and what is expected. They agreed Pearl should be paid among the top four coaches in the SEC.

Florida coach Billy Donovan recently signed a deal paying him an average of $3.5 million. Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie makes an average of $2.3 million at Kentucky.

Pearl has been a head coach longer than Gilliespie and has accomplished more. Pearl also has greater expectations this season than Kentucky. But making about $1 million less this season doesn't seem to bother Pearl, who enters his third season ranked in the top 10 of several preseason polls.

``I don't ever want to be in a situation where I'm overpaid,'' Pearl said. ``I want people to say, `He should get more.'''

While Pearl said he reached an agreement in principle with Hamilton shortly after the season ended, he said the contract wasn't sent to him until Wednesday and that he hasn't seen it because he's been on the road recruiting since July 5. He said he will return Saturday for three hours, hit the road again, then return Monday. He expects to sign the deal next week.

Agreements for UT basketball assistants have been reached, but those have yet to be announced.

Will Pearl make more than Summitt?

That remains to be seen.

Lady Vols athletic director Joan Cronan said: ``We'll do what's fair for Pat and the University.''

She said a decision hasn't been made yet on Summitt's contract. Before last season, Summitt signed a contract similar to Pearl's – 6 years, $7.8 million - but the built-in raises are different from Pearl's package.

With her bonuses, including $250,000 for winning her seventh national championship, Summitt made over $1.4 million last year. Her guaranteed money last year was $25,000 more than Pearl's.

Last month, UT president Dr. John Petersen said he didn't have a predisposed position that Summitt should make as a much or more than Pearl and that comparisons between the coaches shouldn't be made.

Summitt is the highest-paid coach in women's basketball. Pearl is third-highest paid men's basketball coach in the SEC, but not in the top 20 nationally.

Asked about Pearl's pending deal, Summitt said Friday: ``I'm proud of Bruce. He's done a great job. I'm excited for him.''

Would Summitt be bothered if Pearl made more?

``I'm not going to say it would bother me,'' she said. ``But having been here 33 years, going on 34, I hope the University would look at my situation and I trust they will. Joan Cronan and Dr. Petersen have been very fair to me.''

Summitt said she has not yet discussed salary or a raise with Cronan.

Summitt was asked if she thought she should get a raise after winning a national title.

``Obviously you get a nice bonus ($250,000),'' she said. ``It's up to the administration to do what they will with my salary.''

Summitt was asked if she's more in tune with her salary compared to the national women's basketball scene or what the UT men's basketball coach makes.

``Both,'' she said.

She added: ``Because of the success of the program and the number of years we've been there, I don't think anyone in the women's game compares to what Tennessee has done, and we've led the nation in attendance several times in the past few years. The administration has looked at that and has been very fair to put me in the position to be the highest paid coach in women's basketball.''

UT has agreed on raises for the Lady Vols assistants, but those numbers have not been released.

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