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Tennessee Coach Apologizes for Remark

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - An off-the-cuff comment by University of Tennessee men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl has apologized for an unscripted comment he made at a charity fundraiser Thursday.

Pearl is apologizing if anyone was offended by the remark he made when he was one of the featured speakers at a recent kickoff for charity fundraiser among Tennessee Valley Authority employees.

He took questions from the crowd and was asked about his three new players this year.

"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 (Tenn.), where they wear the hood!" Pearl said. After a pause, he added, "That wasn't part of the script."

Later Thursday, Pearl issued a written statement, apologizing if anyone was offended by the joke, which he called inappropriate.

"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 makes dozens of appearances each month for charity events, often speaking without notes and to positive response.

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