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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Former University of Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl has accepted a job as vice president of marketing with H.T. Hackney, a wholesale grocery distributor based here.
"It's really an answer to [my] prayers," Pearl told the Associated Press. "This is where my family is. This is where I want to be. Everybody looks at me as a coach, but I'm a father and a husband and I've got to provide for my family."
Pearl was fired in March after six seasons at Tennessee. A two-year NCAA investigation ended Wednesday with a three-year show-cause penalty against the coach -- a sanction that makes it nearly impossible for another school to hire him during that time, according to the AP report.
Pearl majored in marketing and economics at Boston College, and said he would have pursued a career in marketing had he not gotten into coaching in 1982.
"I am a former basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, and I'm very proud of almost everything that we accomplished," he said. "I'm excited about this new challenge. I'm going to bring the same level of passion and intensity. This is a championship team already. Nobody in the industry does that better. I'm learning that quickly."
H.T. Hackney's Chairman and CEO Bill Sansom is a former University of Tennessee trustee. Sansom said he asked Pearl several months ago if he'd considered taking a non-coaching job with a local company, the report noted.
H.T. Hackney is a privately held company with annual revenues of about $4 billion. Sansom said he felt Pearl fit the company's culture and said he had no problem if Pearl wanted to pursue coaching again in three years.
"I hope Bruce has so much fun he won't want to leave, but if he's got that passion and has an opportunity, that's not a problem for either one of us if he wants to do that when the time comes," Sansom said.