By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Former Vols men's assistant basketball coach Tony Jones has remained quiet about being fired from the University of Tennessee, until now.
Jones on Monday gave his first interview since he, head coach Bruce Pearl, and other assistant coaches were fired March 21 in the wake of an NCAA investigation into recruiting violations.
Sitting in his West Knoxville home, Jones reflected on the memories made during his time at UT.
"It was a great run. The fans were phenomenal during our six years, and especially when I was the interim head coach for eight games. They really rallied behind me in a very difficult circumstance, and I just want to say thank you," he said.
Jones said the day he was fired was tough, but he's not bitter.
"It was emotional, especially after getting the final notice from the administration, but it is what it is and you just take it in stride and you move on. I've had tragedy in my life over the last 20 months with my father being murdered tragically and that's the worst it can get," he said.
Right now, the husband, father of four, and grandfather of three says he's spending time with his family, getting in some rounds of golf, and working on his next gig.
"I have a couple of interviews planned collegiately, and I've talked to a couple of people in the NBA. Those will probably be the two things that are on the horizon for me."
Jones is proud of his coaching record, which includes seven NCAA tournament appearances, and he maintains a friendship with his former boss. "Bruce and I'll continue to be friends and who knows what will happen in the future," he said.
When asked if they would ever work together again, Jones said, "It's something I wouldn't rule out. Obviously we worked together for 10 years and on the basketball floor was very productive."
Jones and the Vols aren't parting ways completely because his youngest daughter told him she still plans to graduate from UT.
"It's kind of ironic that I won't be working for the University of Tennessee, Bruce Pearl and his staff was fired, but I'll be writing checks to the university for a couple more years," Jones laughed.
He has also maintained a relationship with his former players and said, "I hope each and every one of the athletes that continue to have eligibility to play at Tennessee, I hope they return and play for Cuonzo Martin, who I think is going to do a good job."
When asked about his dream job, Jones said, "You really want me to tell you? The head basketball coach of UCLA, that's my dream job to one day become that coach and who knows? It may happen in the future. I know only a couple of things end coaching careers and that's losing and dying. I'm not associated with either one of those right now."
Jones says he cannot comment about the ongoing NCAA investigation, but he is looking forward to clearing his name in June.
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