UT donors feel Pearl's firing was justified

UT donors feel Pearl's firing was justified


6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - People are still talking about the firing of UT men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl. Even though many people are upset with the decision, many long time UT donors feel it was the right decision.

Andy Cantillo, the owner of Bayou Bay Seafood House, was not born in Knoxville, but became a fan quick.

Cantillo's restaurant is covered in UT items, and he even purchased a orange and white chopper six years ago.

Bruce Pearl was one of his favorite coaches. "Bruce Pearl, a lot of energy brought to the program with him," said Cantillo. "He totally embraced the program."

Cantillo says he was not surprised that Pearl got fired. "It was the right decision. Maybe for the long haul for Tennessee program because the NCAA was going to come down on us so hard from what I am hearing."

"I think Tennessee's hands were tied," said Cantillo. "(They) had to do what they had to do. It breaks my heart that we lose such a good man."

Another Pearl fan and UT donor is Bill Justus. He lives in Nashville, but is a UT grad, and a former UT basketball player in the 1960s.

"While it didn't shock me, it disappointed me," Justus said. "I think at the end of the day, the university had to place the value of things at the University of Tennessee higher than a single person."

Justus says he hopes fans who still support Pearl will look at the bigger picture. "I hope that he and I will always be friends, but I do place the University of Tennessee and its future . . . it simply has to be in first place," said Justus.

Both men say it will be hard to fill Bruce Pearl's shoes.

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