Regardless of the decisions that caused the situation, life for Bruce Pearl and his family hasn’t been terribly easy the past few months.
One of those most affected has been Pearl’s oldest son, Steven, who just completed his five-year career playing for his father on the Tennessee men’s basketball team.
Steven Pearl sat down with GVX247 after the Volunteers’ season-ending, NCAA tournament loss to Michigan on Friday afternoon and spoke candidly about the end of his career and possibly the end of his father’s career at UT.
Q: There must be several thoughts running through your head in a moment like this. How are you handling this situation?
PEARL: “It’s just tough. There’s just so much going on. My career’s done at Tennessee, so that’s obviously really upsetting. And then there’s just all the unknowns in the future. Obviously, it’s tough, but you’ve just got to take things one step at a time. You’ve just got to digest this loss and understand that my basketball days are over, and it didn’t end the way I wanted it to. And then you’ve got to move on to other things.”
Q: Whether it’s fair or not, people will wonder if UT men’s athletic director Mike Hamilton’s comments about your father heading into this game had an impact on the floor. This team hadn’t been beaten like this all season. Was that a factor?
PEARL: “We’ve had so much stacked up against us the whole year. We’ve kind of just played like that all year long. You can’t use that as an excuse. It was said, and you’ve got to take it and move on from there. You can’t hold that against us. We’ve got to be able to play through it.”
Q: What’s next for you and your family? This situation seems uncertain at the very least.
PEARL: “We really don’t talk about it that much, but it’s been a tough year, it’s been a long year. We’ll just see what’s next, handle it and go from there.”
Q: One question that hasn’t been asked enough is whether your father still wants to be at UT after all this. Do you think he still wants to be at UT?
PEARL: “He wants to be here. We all want to be here, and that’s not going to change. He wants to retire at Tennessee, and that’s not going to change. The past six years have been unbelievable, and we want to make many more memories.”
Q: How has your father dealt with this behind closed doors? I know that’s a personal question, but I know many people are curious.
PEARL: “Oh, my God. I couldn’t do it. I’ve had it hard enough, and I’m just playing. He’s going through everything else. I’ve always had a ton of respect for my dad, but I have ten times more now after seeing how he’s handled this, and how he’s gone through this. He’s just been unbelievable.”
Q: I know you didn’t see your father’s recent postgame interview, but he didn’t show the emotion I thought he’d show. It looked to me like I wanted to dig in and fight for his job here. Would you agree with that assessment?
PEARL: “My dad wants to retire at Tennessee. He doesn’t want to leave. None of us want to leave.”
Q: What are your expectations for the next few days and weeks?
PEARL: “I honestly have no idea. You’ve just got to hope for the best.”
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