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Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Bruce Pearl was always quite the marketer

By Diamond Leung



A few weeks after his tearful news conference during which he admitted to lying to NCAA investigators, Bruce Pearl put on an orange jacket and a smile while appearing at a promotion for the United Way as a celebrity gas pumper.

"In coaching, you always need to have a profession you need to fall back on if you don't win enough games, so I'm just here practicing," Pearl joked of pumping gas.

Pearl had the charisma and charm to emerge as one of college basketball's most recognizable coaches, and now he has decided to serve his exile in the private sector. He won't exactly be pumping gas, but as a vice president of marketing for a Knoxville-based wholesale grocery company, Pearl has decided that he won't coach after the NCAA handed down a three-year show-cause penalty.

For Pearl, it's quite a fall from grace. It's not expected he'll be in the spotlight much with his new job. And selling groceries wasn't supposed to appear on a resume for a coach with NCAA tournament success.

But for Pearl, it's also a time to reassess and spend time with his family. He'll also get to utilize his marketing skills while working for a familiar and friendly face.

"I've known Bruce Pearl for years -- his leadership, competitiveness and understanding of marketing is a great fit for our organization," said CEO Bill Sansom, a former University of Tennessee trustee.

Pearl told Andy Katz it will depend what happens over the next three years whether he will coach again. After that point is when it becomes more likely that a school will even think about hiring him.

For now, all he can do is sell an entirely different kind of brand.