KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl has apologized for a joking remark that linked the rural home of one his players to the Ku Klux Klan.
The Volunteers' fifth-season coach was caught on camera Thursday by WBIR-TV during a charity fundraising event describing the challenge of shaping a team of players from different backgrounds.
"I've got a tough job," the Boston native said. "I've got to put these guys from different worlds together, right? I've got guys from Chicago, Detroit. I'm talking about the 'hood! And I've got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood!"
The audience laughed loudly, but after WBIR-TV aired the remarks the coach issued an apology.
"I made the statement in jest to describe the diverse group our staff recruits year-in and year-out," Pearl said in a statement released Friday to The Associated Press. "Unfortunately while I was trying to excite the crowd and encourage employees to give, I made an inappropriate joke."
He said he "certainly did not intend to offend anyone and I apologize to everyone, especially the people of Grainger County," the northeast Tennessee county that's home to freshman Skylar McBee.
"There's no hard feelings at all," McBee's father, Doug McBee, told The Knoxville News Sentinel. "We are country up here, but we're not prejudiced. It was a joke, and that's how I took it."
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