Bruce Pearl taking marketing job with H.T. Hackney

Former University of Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl addresses members of the media in a press conference at his home in Knoxville on Aug. 25, 2011  to comment on the punishment he received from the NCAA.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Former University of Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl addresses members of the media in a press conference at his home in Knoxville on Aug. 25, 2011 to comment on the punishment he received from the NCAA.

Bruce Pearl begins new chapter in life as VP at H.T. Hackney Co.

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.

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Comments » 101

boroviathaochvolsfan writes:

Congratulations Coach Pearl! I am glad he is sticking around Knoxville.

Volunatic writes:

Good hire. Pearl will do well in that job.

IBAVolFan writes:

Going to miss you Pearl.

FWBVol writes:

Why is this breaking news? It hardly qualifies as news at all.

I'm sure we are all glad to know that Bruce Pearl won't have to worry about his electric bill. Oh wait, UT is giving him a nice severance package so he doesn't have to worry about that.

I do appreciate all the positive things Bruce did for our basketball program, but I really hope this is the last Bruce Pearl story, but I imagine we will be reading about his TV gig in a few weeks. This job seems perfect to allow him a few hours a week to jet to New York or where ever and do his basketball stuff.

Let's focus on football it's that time!

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say he in charge of cookout sections...lol. Witch Doctor say he wants to stay in Knoxville..good for him.
Bones never lie.

VolunteerLifer writes:

I think Coach Pearl will be very good at this job. Good luck, Coach

RespectYourElders writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Why is this breaking news? It hardly qualifies as news at all.

I'm sure we are all glad to know that Bruce Pearl won't have to worry about his electric bill. Oh wait, UT is giving him a nice severance package so he doesn't have to worry about that.

I do appreciate all the positive things Bruce did for our basketball program, but I really hope this is the last Bruce Pearl story, but I imagine we will be reading about his TV gig in a few weeks. This job seems perfect to allow him a few hours a week to jet to New York or where ever and do his basketball stuff.

Let's focus on football it's that time!

It's news because the majority of people in town like Bruce Pearl and are glad he will be okay and stay in town. Besides, whether you like it or not, he is a well known person who makes the news from time to time.

brod writes:

Bruce, it just doesn't seem right. You should be on the bench coaching. Even if it is in the D-League.

Mikeah writes:

Hire him back in three?

knslogin writes:

I hope the NCAA doesn't add years to his show cause penalty because he gives somebody an out of date free bag of chips!

voloffaith writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Jethro I've talked to ewe about drinking from the cement pond,but evidently you can't help yoself........chemicals have gone to your unpolite brain and triggered unnecessary response as you usually give. Try and have a nice day at your own expense and not others.

easleychuck writes:

Good luck Coach! Thank you for the great memories that you brought to the program. Again, good luck to you and your family.

bebecerveza writes:

So let me get this straight,

- If you lie to your boss and the governing body of your sport, this is what happens to you:

A) You screw the program and get a nice severance package out of it.

B) You get hired as a VP of Marketing (I'm sure with a very nice salary and perks)with a big company and get to stay in K-Town.

Just remember kids lying will get you no where!

TommyJack writes:

Good for Bruce. Surprised at the hate.

volinky writes:

I think he would be the perfect replacement for Coach Summit someday. I hope Pat can coach as long as possible, but believe Bruce would be a fabulous Lady Vol coach.

GreerVol22 writes:

he's damaged goods on the court for the next three, so kudos if he can land a gig like this and stay in town. I hope he can still afford the payments on the house...har. Maybe he can pay it off in potato chips and water...

oscar285 writes:

Coach Pearl (and you will always be Coach to me), so glad you and your family will be staying in Knoxville. Hackney could've done a lot worse with this hire. Good luck Coach!! Hope to see you around town sometime!

RJP11 writes:

Hiring BP back in 3 years or EVER would be a collosal mistake. Like it or not, the guy is a marked man with the NCAA & any program that ever hires him will be marked by that fact alone. The NCAA would find a reason to crucify UT if it had the audacity to rehire him. No one who truly loves UT would rationally support such a move.

Then again UT's incompetent & negligent Board of Trustees that has botched 4 system president hires in a row, not to mention the awful Cheek hire & the botching-in-progress on the AD hire, would probably think it's a great idea because they probably consider Bruce their "buddy" instead of the guy who revived the program only to foolishly, selfishly & unforgivably set it back 20 years while tarnishing the image of University in the process. Anyone who's for signing that guy back up at UT is a darn fool no matter how likable he may in fact be.

KnoxvilleKnowledge writes:

Why is he selling his house if he is staying in the area?

lomas98 writes:

in response to bebecerveza:

So let me get this straight,

- If you lie to your boss and the governing body of your sport, this is what happens to you:

A) You screw the program and get a nice severance package out of it.

B) You get hired as a VP of Marketing (I'm sure with a very nice salary and perks)with a big company and get to stay in K-Town.

Just remember kids lying will get you no where!

What would you suggest happen to him, street peddler? he has to do something with his life and coaching college basketball is not in the current hand he is dealt. HT Hackney doens't have to report to the NCAA and can do whatever they want. If Bruce lies to his boss here on something considered company policy, he will be fired here as well. Not sure what your point is or what you want him to do going forward.

ROCKYTOPBRAD writes:

Gonzo is just keeping the seat warm when bruce comes back in 2014!!!!!

640 writes:

congrats!!!

VOLliven2it writes:

I have one thing to say, No matter where Bruce Pearl is, in or out of bb on any level, in Knoxville, our head coach is Cuonzo Martin and I am behind him. Bruce will be fine. He made this place better for men's bb then marred it with his actions. I just am so thankful all penalties are in.
He has every right to live and work in Knoxville and even hold any BBQs he wants. So can we get on with life? For now, I'm looking to Sat. and some head hitting in Neyland Stadium. Best to you Bruce but GO BIG ORANGE!

kingofthevols writes:

What is the corporate code of ethics like at Hackney?

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to RJP11:

Hiring BP back in 3 years or EVER would be a collosal mistake. Like it or not, the guy is a marked man with the NCAA & any program that ever hires him will be marked by that fact alone. The NCAA would find a reason to crucify UT if it had the audacity to rehire him. No one who truly loves UT would rationally support such a move.

Then again UT's incompetent & negligent Board of Trustees that has botched 4 system president hires in a row, not to mention the awful Cheek hire & the botching-in-progress on the AD hire, would probably think it's a great idea because they probably consider Bruce their "buddy" instead of the guy who revived the program only to foolishly, selfishly & unforgivably set it back 20 years while tarnishing the image of University in the process. Anyone who's for signing that guy back up at UT is a darn fool no matter how likable he may in fact be.

Given where we've been as a basketball program in the past and given the type of AD we're likely to end up with, hiring Pearl back may be our only option to be relevant in basketball again if Martin doesn't work out, which, given the current recruiting class, and the lack of prospects for the upcoming one, is a strong possibility.

Bigger_Al writes:

Glad he's sticking around. BRUCE for AD!!

Probably won't happen, but he would be phenomenal.

UTbassdrummer writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Why is this breaking news? It hardly qualifies as news at all.

I'm sure we are all glad to know that Bruce Pearl won't have to worry about his electric bill. Oh wait, UT is giving him a nice severance package so he doesn't have to worry about that.

I do appreciate all the positive things Bruce did for our basketball program, but I really hope this is the last Bruce Pearl story, but I imagine we will be reading about his TV gig in a few weeks. This job seems perfect to allow him a few hours a week to jet to New York or where ever and do his basketball stuff.

Let's focus on football it's that time!

It's "breaking news" bc it just happened. It's "news" bc it's BRUCE PEARL who was just punished by the NCAA bc of his time at UT, and what he does next is relative because, even though it isn't with YOU, his name carries a lot of gravity, because of the good and the bad that has DOMINATED our Vols news for the last year +. This is a relative story. Ugh.

UTbassdrummer writes:

That being said, WHY does this story draw so many comments, if it isn't "breaking news"? If only the good news or news about our current teams drew so much interest, instead of only the news that's easy to complain about. So it go, GVX forum. So it goes.

LucasMcCain writes:

If they are smart, Pearl and H.T. Hackney will launch an new line of products called Bruce Pearl Bar-B-Q. They will make millions. Within a year or two, you will see commercials on CBS during every basketball game of March Madness for Bruce Pearl Bar-B-Q.

LucasMcCain writes:

If these folks are smart, they will launch a new line of products called Bruce Pearl Bar-B-Q, and make millions. Within a year or two, you will see commercials on CBS during every basketball game of March Madness for Bruce Pearl Bar-B-Q.

LaneBrains writes:

The "H" in H.T. is for "Hamilton" right?

CLK, Monte and Ed

TKO writes:

Good fit. Congrats to Hackney and Bruce Pearl.

RoadTrip writes:

Just figured this out possibly. Three years - takes Pat's job when she steps down.

rockytop311 writes:

This is the worst possible outcome for the bb team. The person that everyone still wants to be coach isn't leaving town. What happens when he turns up courtside at the uk or uconn game? What if we're struggling, then they start asking Pearl " what would you do here and why do you think the team isn't responding? Every move Counzo makes will be second guessed and ran by Bruce Almighty for approval.

fratricide08 writes:

Any other person or in any other job and I'd say this was a give-away/thanks for the memories type of hire but Pearl is absolutely perfect for this position. It's a very smart move by H.T. Hackney.

CoverOrange writes:

Better than selling mobile homes out on Clinton highway.

carbonzip writes:

What is Dan DeVoe doing these days?

NashvillePreds writes:

Nice to see Pearl is going to be around East TN.

jone8191#247590 writes:

We will be waiting for you in three years Bruce!! We need you in Knoxville and the NCAA can kiss our #$$. Best of luck!

letthebigdoghunt writes:

in response to TheKentuckyEffect:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Now that's funny GBO

UkJarhead writes:

Maybe ya'll should stand behind your current coach. He hasn't had a practice and ya'll talking bout his replacement. A replacement that has been disgraced as a liar. I'm sure you will jump on this but I'll say it anyway. If Cal cheated and lied and disgraced us, I sure wouldn't want him hanging around Lexington so he could be rehired. And before you start, NO. Cal hasn't ever been accused of cheating anywhere. If Pearl would have been a better cook and convinced Craft to come to Knoxville, you would have a vacated Final Four. Just be happy with your lack of sanctions, stand behind your new coaches, and cheer on your team...

VOLFTBL writes:

I'm glad that Bruce Pearl has decided to stay in Knoxville. Pearl will still be able to bring enthusiasm to UT sports, even though he is no longer the head coach. I am also glad that his kids are doing so well in Knoxville. I'm sure he's a great hire for H.T. Hackney and will do an awesome job for them. Go Vols!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to westknoxrepub:

Given where we've been as a basketball program in the past and given the type of AD we're likely to end up with, hiring Pearl back may be our only option to be relevant in basketball again if Martin doesn't work out, which, given the current recruiting class, and the lack of prospects for the upcoming one, is a strong possibility.

Several unwarranted assumptions here. Still with "the current recruiting class, and the lack of prospects for the upcoming one"? Why can't you get it through your head that NO ONE could have recruited a star-laden class coming on the job at as late a date as Martin did with the possibility of NCAA sanctions hanging over the program? Well, I suppose someone who was willing to pay recruits top dollar could have done so. Is THAT what you think he should have done? If Martin can produce a half-way decent season with the talent on hand and now that the threat of major sanctions is gone, we will see how he can recruit without both hands tied behind his back, so to speak. In the meantime, the reasonable thing for any true fan to do is at least to suspend judgment until there is something real to judge FROM.

BruisedOrange writes:

in response to rockytop311:

This is the worst possible outcome for the bb team. The person that everyone still wants to be coach isn't leaving town. What happens when he turns up courtside at the uk or uconn game? What if we're struggling, then they start asking Pearl " what would you do here and why do you think the team isn't responding? Every move Counzo makes will be second guessed and ran by Bruce Almighty for approval.

Well... I would agree if we were talking about a church and Bruce was the former pastor taking a pew. But this is totally different. Fans may ask Bruce to critique, but he won't. In fact, I doubt he'll even tolerate the question.

Right now Bruce is the black sheep of the Big Orange family... but he IS family. His support for UT athletics is no less pure now than when he was supporting Lady Vols basketball while his men's team was second fiddle.

The man has 3 years to prove that he is a trustworthy professional in order to regain the object of his passion. Bruce will be Cuonzo's biggest supporter.

The only team member who EVEN MIGHT ask Bruce his opinion about something Cuonzo does would be Tyler Summitt--and that would only happen after the season, and for purely self-educational reasons.

Now that I think about it, I wish pastors were more like coaches. But then congregations would have to become players instead of just spectators!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to UkJarhead:

Maybe ya'll should stand behind your current coach. He hasn't had a practice and ya'll talking bout his replacement. A replacement that has been disgraced as a liar. I'm sure you will jump on this but I'll say it anyway. If Cal cheated and lied and disgraced us, I sure wouldn't want him hanging around Lexington so he could be rehired. And before you start, NO. Cal hasn't ever been accused of cheating anywhere. If Pearl would have been a better cook and convinced Craft to come to Knoxville, you would have a vacated Final Four. Just be happy with your lack of sanctions, stand behind your new coaches, and cheer on your team...

Even most of those who were big Pearl supporters, and I was one for the most part, think Martin deserves a fair chance. He had nothing to do with Pearl being dismissed, has a decent though short coaching resume, and seems to be a guy with determination and high character. There are some who are like the Fulmer supporters who don't like Dooley--not because he is Dooley, but because he isn't Fulmer--but I think they are in the minority. Besides, being a UK fan, you probably know better than anyone that there is always an irreducible minimum of opinionated fans who aren't happy with their program over SOMETHING, no matter how well it is doing at any given time.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to KnoxvilleKnowledge:

Why is he selling his house if he is staying in the area?

Why do you think he is selling his house? There was certainly nothing about that in this article. If he had been thinking about selling his house, it may have been while he was considering the NBDL job in Texas but I surely haven't heard that.

FWBVol writes:

in response to RespectYourElders:

It's news because the majority of people in town like Bruce Pearl and are glad he will be okay and stay in town. Besides, whether you like it or not, he is a well known person who makes the news from time to time.

You are making an assumption that the majority of people in Knoxville are glad he is going to stay in town. That is a fact not in evidence at this point.

I have nothing against Pearl. As I said, I appreciate the good he did for the men's basketball program. But for Pete's sake, he got a job on top of the package UT paid him.

A lot of people complain that Phillip Fulmer won't seem to go away. I'm not one of them. But at least Fulmer is a UT man and has Tennessee roots.

I'm not begrudging Bruce Pearl for getting a nice gig. I'm sure it will be less stressful than coaching hoops at any level. And, as someone a couple of years older than Pearl, I can understand why he might want a break from coaching for a few years.

It does concern me that as long as Pearl is in the Knoxville area that Cuonzo Martin won't be given a fair shot by a lot of fans. Even now people are posting that in three years Pearl can come back and coach UT. It's almost as if some people are pulling for Martin to fail.

By the way, I am in the newspaper business and have been for several years. I'm also a UT grad. And while this might warrant some small coverage, I don't see how you flag it as breaking news other than to draw readers to the page. I will say it accomplished just that.

westknoxrepub writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Several unwarranted assumptions here. Still with "the current recruiting class, and the lack of prospects for the upcoming one"? Why can't you get it through your head that NO ONE could have recruited a star-laden class coming on the job at as late a date as Martin did with the possibility of NCAA sanctions hanging over the program? Well, I suppose someone who was willing to pay recruits top dollar could have done so. Is THAT what you think he should have done? If Martin can produce a half-way decent season with the talent on hand and now that the threat of major sanctions is gone, we will see how he can recruit without both hands tied behind his back, so to speak. In the meantime, the reasonable thing for any true fan to do is at least to suspend judgment until there is something real to judge FROM.

Last recruiting class aside, we still are in with zero major prospects for the 2012 class. . which is telling.

MikeTheTiger writes:

Glad you have decided to make K-Town home. Love having you here but I would love it even more if you were in Baton Rouge coaching my Tigers!

traderjoe writes:

Good luck to you coach. They're lucky to have you. I'm sure you'll do well.

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