Another honor for Pearl

The honors continue to come in for Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl, and the latest may be the greatest yet.

Pearl was among nine athletics figures inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame this morning at Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center in Commack, N.Y.

Bruce Pearl has done amazing things in the three years since he assumed command of the Vol hoops program. Perhaps the most revealing statistic is this: The single-season school record for victories prior to his arrival was 26. Pearl is AVERAGING nearly 26 wins per year (25.6, to be precise).

Assuming a program that had gone 14-17 in 2004-05, Pearl went 21-8 in '05-06, 22-10 in '06-07 and 31-5 in '07-08. He just won the program's first SEC title in 41 years, posting a sizzling 14-2 conference record and achieving the school's first-ever stay at No. 1 in the national rankings.

"It is a great honor to be inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame," Pearl said in a statement released by the UT sports information office. "To be included in a class that features Olympic gold medalists, pro football hall of famers and award-winning journalists is very humbling for me."

In addition to his SEC overall title, Pearl's first three years at the Vol helm show two SEC Eastern Division titles, three consecutive NCAA Tournament bids and back-to-back appearances in the Sweet 16. He has been named SEC Coach of the Year twice (2006 and 2008) and earned national coach of the year honors two times. He is 77-24 at UT and 394-108 in 16 years as a head coach, including stops at Southern Indiana and Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Joining Pearl in the 16th annual class were Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug, sportswriter/ESPN personality Tony Kornheiser, pro football Hall of Fame member Ron Mix, Olympic swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg, broadcaster Sam Rosen, 1940s St. John's basketball player Hy Gotkin and Olympic fencing judge Daniel Bukantz.

Pearl is the second sports figure with UT ties to make the NJSHF. Former Vol basketball All-America Ernie Grunfeld was elected to the NJSHF in 1993. Grunfeld's son Dan, who attended Stanford, also is a member.

Other Hall members include former Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach, Harlem Globetotters founder Abe Saperstein, former NFL coach Marv Levy, NBA and college basketball coach Larry Brown, college and professional football hall of fame coach Sid Gillman, basketball legend Dolph Shayes and broadcasters Marv Albert, Mel Allen and Howard Cosell.

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