Bruce Pearl has a lot of orange in his closet, and he said he doesn’t see any reason why the color shouldn’t continue to be a part of his wardrobe.
“I get questions about why I wear orange,’’ said Pearl, who was fired as coach after a successful six-year tenure on March 21 in the midst of the NCAA’s ongoing case with the Tennessee men’s basketball program.
“I love the Vols, I will always love the Vols, it is great to be a Tennessee Vol,’’ Pearl said. “I’m a former coach for the University of Tennessee , and I’m proud of the six years we had there. It’s gonna be hard to put on a different color.’’
Pearl, who wore an orange tie and orange suspenders to UT’s hearing before the Committee on Infractions on June 11, has a separation agreement with UT which restricts him from saying anything negative about the program, or interfering with and/or distracting players.
While doing a series of interviews on Friday at an a3 athletic agency charity fund-raiser, Pearl said he planned to be respectful of the program even before those stipulations were put in place — with the potential for $10,000 fine per occurrence.
“I’m not going to say a disparaging thing about Tennessee, but there’s not anything to be gained by saying anything disparaging,’’ Pearl said on the News Sentinel’s Sports Page radio show. “My contact with players, in no way, would be thought of to interfere with the program, it would be to support the program.’’
In fact, Pearl — who plans to keep Knoxville his home in the near future, if not longer — said he will attend the Pilot Rocky Top summer basketball league that he encouraged upon taking over the Vols’ head coaching job in 2005.
“I will come out, definitely ... I will get back into that sort of thing,’’ said Pearl, who only did a few interviews between the time he was fired and the June 11 NCAA hearing. “I don’t want to be a distraction, I want to be supportive. I’ll watch my son (Steven) play, and I look forward to watching the Vols play and being there to support them.
“But I thought it was important this spring to keep my distance."
Pearl said he’s not sure what his next move will be professionally. Neither he, nor UT, will know the penalties and/or restrictions issued by the Committee on Infractions until late summer or early fall.
“I’m going to get out this summer, and a number of coaches have reached out and want me to come in and talk basketball with them and X and O with them, and some folks are going overseas, so I’ll probably take a look at a couple of things,’’ he said. “I will go out on the recruiting trail at some of the larger events, just so I can keep my hands on it, keep an eye on the 2012-2013 classes if basketball is in my future. So I will stay current in recruiting and Xs and Os.’’
In the event the NCAA applies a show-cause penalty — which would strongly discourage other NCAA programs from hiring him — Pearl indicated he would consider doing television work in studio or at courtside for a major network.