'We Want Bruce!' Fans rally to support coach Bruce Pearl

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) -- Roughly 100 Volunteer fans made their way to the Tennessee campus Sunday afternoon to show their support for Vols' head coach Bruce Pearl.

Pearl is waiting to learn his fate as the team's basketball coach.

Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton said Wednesday that Pearl would be evaluated after the Vols' season ended. Tennessee lost 75-45 to Michigan in its opener at the NCAA tournament Friday.

The NCAA charged Pearl with unethical conduct and other recruiting violations after he revealed he lied during an investigation into recruiting.

Fans chanted "We Want Bruce" during the rally. Some supporters wore T-shirts that read: "Team Pearl," "I am Bruce," and "Bruce for President."

Parker Williams, a student at Catholic and a friend of the Pearl family, organized the rally. She posted a Facebook group called "Keep Bruce Pearl" Saturday night at 7 pm.

Within hours, the page had more than 4,700 "likes".

"I think he's a good person in general and not just a basketball coach," Williams said. "He's a leader and a role model for everyone," she added.

Knoxville resident Marc Maxwell was on hand for Sunday's rally. Despite any potential punishment from the NCAA, he says he's behind Pearl 100 percent.

"I've sat in that arena when we were 5-22 and I appreciate all he's done for the university and community," Maxwell told WVLT. "I think the university is overreacting. I don't feel like you should get the needle for jaywalking."

Pearl's body of work at Tennessee is unmatched. He's coached the program to a record six straight NCAA tournament appearances, including the program's first trip to the Elite 8 in 2010.


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