By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - With UT men's head basketball coach Bruce Pearl now under investigation by the NCAA, 6 News asked some local charities with ties to the coach if they're reconsidering.
Pearl makes many appearances for United Way, from signing autographs to judging a chili cook-off.
Officials with United Way of Greater Knoxville said, "Bruce has been an outstanding volunteer and donor for United Way and he does many speaking engagements for us. That's the only thing we're concerned about."
Pearl has also been an ambassador for the Outlive campaign against cancer.
Steve Ross, senior vice president for strategic development at UT Medical Center, said, "Bruce Pearl has been a tremendous ambassador for the university's OUTLIVE: Tennessee Fights to Beat Cancer program. He is incredibly passionate about raising cancer awareness and funds to beat cancer right here in East Tennessee through The University of Tennessee Medical Center Cancer Institute. Coach Pearl has worked tirelessly to bring significant amounts of additional cancer screenings, educational programs, outreach efforts and Cancer Institute program enhancements that directly benefit our cancer patients and their families. We're proud of coach Pearl's hard work on behalf of OUTLIVE and look forward to working with him more in the fight against cancer."
Dr. Gene Hayes, founder and director of Camp Koinonia, said, "I'm a strong supporter of Coach Pearl. He's done a tremendous amount of good work for us with Camp Koinonia. It's a camp for children who have significant disabilities that people don't see very often. Bruce has taken it upon himself to come out and visit with us, and to start the Bruce Pearl Golf tournament to support this type of program. He's just stepped up in many, many ways to help improve the lives of our kids who have significant disabilities. We all make mistakes and I know he's aware of that. We will not be distancing ourselves from Bruce in our programs. He's a very positive role model, I feel, for our programs and we will continue to work with him as often as we can."
Pearl also fund raises for the Jewish Federations of North America.
The executive director of the Knoxville Jewish Alliance, Jeff Gubitz, said, "Bruce Pearl came to Knoxville and immediately began to help the Knoxville Jewish Alliance with programs and fundraising. He speaks nationally raising funds for our communities that are part of the Jewish Federations of North America. He was the key note speaker at the Jewish Federations of North America's Tennessee General Assembly, where over 4,000 Jewish representatives from over 200 North American European, Israeli communities, were present to hear him speak. I think that Bruce is a positive individual, and has come out on top from some other situations. I believe he will in this situation. From my dealings with him, I know and sense that he has an incredible amount of remorse. Bruce Pearl is one of those people who I'm sure is harder on himself for tripping over some rules or guidelines than anyone else."
Pearl coached the winning USA men's basketball team at the 2009 world Maccabiah Games in Israel.
"We are supportive of Bruce in this challenging time. People make mistakes, and he has owned up and taken responsibility for them. As a spokesman for Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel, a not-for-profit organization in Philadelphia, I feel very comfortable with Bruce as one of our spokesmen. In fact he is appearing for us this weekend in Connecticut," said Jed Margolis, executive director of Maccabi USA.
Pearl also helps with Hoops for Hope for the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee.
Executive Director Kelly Johnson Brickey said, "The Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee fully appreciates Coach Pearl's willingness and enthusiasm to support our organization's goal in raising awareness within our community about the abilities of kids, teens and adults with Down Syndrome. Coach Pearl and the University of Tennessee's men's and women's basketball teams have given both time and effort to made a difference in the lives of our kids during our annual Hoops for Hope basketball event. We look forward to both Coach Pearl's and the teams' future involvement with our organization and giving our DSAG families something to look forward to each year."
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