Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl said he told an inappropriate, off-the-cuff joke at a charity fundraiser Thursday morning and issued an apology in the afternoon.
Pearl, one of the featured speakers at a TVA charity kickoff, was making light of the different types of players from different cultures when he said the following:
"I've got a tough job. I've got to put these guys from different worlds together, right? I've got guys from Chicago, Detroit ... I'm talking about the 'hood! And I've got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood.''
Knoxville's WBIR was one of the television stations on hand for the event, and aired a tape of Pearl's comments, and put it on its Web site.
Pearl released the following statement:
"This morning while speaking at a private kick-off event for a great organization that benefits many local charities, I made a statement in jest to describe the diverse group our staff recruits year-in and year-out.
"Unfortunately while I was trying to excite the crowd and encourage employees to give, I made an inappropriate joke. I certainly did not intend to offend anyone and I apologize to everyone, especially the people of Grainger County.
"In no way am I trying to justify what I said, but I'm disappointed that the focus has been placed on me rather than the charities I was there to help. My only hope is that the visibility of this mistake will encourage those who can to give to those in need during these difficult times.''
Pearl has made hundreds of public appearances on behalf of charities during his four years as the Vols' coach and rarely speaks with notes.
Doug McBee, a teacher at Grainger High School and the father of UT freshman recruit Skylar McBee, said people shouldn't misinterpret Pearl's comment.
"There's no hard feelings at all,'' Doug McBee said. "We are country up here, but we're not prejudice. It was a joke, and that's how I took it.''