Coaching will not be in Bruce Pearl's immediate future as the former Tennessee men's basketball coach has instead accepted a job as vice president of marketing with H.T. Hackney Co.
H.T. Hackney announced today that on Sept. 1 Pearl will join the Knoxville-based wholesale grocery company that supplies a variety of products to stores.
H.T. Hackney, which has its corporate offices in downtown Knoxville and a regional distribution center in Roane County, is led by Chairman and CEO Bill Sansom, who formerly sat on UT's board of trustees and also is a TVA director.
Sansom said Pearl, who was a marketing and economics major at the Boston College School of Management, brings freshness, enthusiasm and a strategic vision to the company.
"H.T. Hackney is a great company that has been doing things right for a long time," Sansom said in a statement. "I've known Bruce Pearl for years — his leadership, competitiveness and understanding of marketing is a great fit for our organization."
Pearl, who coached the Volunteers for six seasons, has two children who graduated from UT and currently work in the Knoxville area. He also has two children still in high school and his wife, Brandy, is a Sevier County native.
Pearl, 51, said the decision came down to a handful of important factors.
"I worked for 33 years — my entire coaching career — to get to a place like Knoxville," the former coach said in a statement. "This is where my family lives, this is home. We have made life-long friends here and we are very blessed to have this opportunity."
According to Forbes magazine, H.T. Hackney is the 82nd largest privately held company in America with annual revenues of about $4 billion. The company is involved in wholesale grocery, including a potato chip company, a bottled water company, and a food commissary, and also is involved in furniture manufacturing and the distribution of gas and oil.
"It took a company like H.T. Hackney with a leader like Bill Sansom to attract me. As a coach, I know the importance of being a team player. It is my goal to assist our sales and marketing staff to better serve our customers, vendors and to grow our business," Pearl said.
UT fired Pearl on March 21 in the wake of an NCAA investigation into recruiting improprieties. The governing body of collegiate athletics ruled that Pearl provided NCAA investigators with false information about impermissible contact made with unofficial visitors during a team cookout at his home in September 2008.
After a lengthy investigation, the NCAA earlier this month leveled a three-year show-cause penalty against Pearl for the infractions, which prevents him from recruiting should a school hire him within the three-year window. The penalty doesn't permanently knock him out of college coaching.
Pearl was considering an offer to coach the Texas Legends in the NBA's Development League with some reports claiming it was for $500,000.
Pearl left UT with a record of 145-61 (65-31 in SEC play), making him the winningest coach in the SEC during his time in Knoxville. During his time with UT, Pearl's teams won three SEC East Championships, had a 22-14 record against Florida, Memphis and Vanderbilt, and made six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. He led Tennessee to its first No. 1 ranking in program history, and in 2010, Tennessee made its first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight.