Martin replaces Pearl
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. With possible NCAA sanctions looming, Tennessee officials are confident new men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin will win “the right way.”
Martin accepted the job well aware of the potential hurdles swirling around the program.
The former Missouri State coach said during his introduction Monday that he has done his homework on the possible NCAA punishment and has also received assurances from athletics director Mike Hamilton regarding the situation.
“It’s a great job. It’s a great opportunity, has great tradition, great history,” Martin said. “For me, as far as the NCAA is concerned, Mike has assured me that everything will work out, and I support that 100 percent. Whatever happens with the NCAA, I will be the coach.”
Martin was one of 14 candidates Hamilton said Tennessee seriously considered and was introduced a week after Bruce Pearl was fired for recruiting violations. Pearl and the Vols’ basketball program have been charged with 10 violations, including an unethical conduct charge against Pearl for lying to NCAA investigators.
School officials will go before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on June 10-11, with final word on the Vols’ punishment likely not coming until the fall.
Hamilton said he talked to Martin’s former coach and boss at Purdue—Gene Keady—before deciding to hire him as someone who can win at Tennessee.
“Cuonzo will win at the University of Tennessee ... More than that, he’s going to do it the right way,” Hamilton said.
Tennessee gave Martin a five-year deal guaranteeing him $1.3 million plus bonuses related to the team’s success with the option of a two-year extension after a 24-month review.
The school also gave Martin protection in his contract against whatever sanctions the NCAA does hand down. His original deal will be extended based on the number of years Tennessee is punished either with restrictions on recruiting, ban on postseason play or reduction of scholarships.
Martin went 61-41 in three seasons at Missouri State after eight years as an assistant coach at Purdue under Keady and Matt Painter.
As a player at Purdue, Martin scored 1,666 points in 127 career games.
The East St. Louis, Ill., native was selected 57th overall in the 1995 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks and played in the NBA for four years, including stints with the Milwaukee Bucks and Vancouver Grizzlies.
Georgia Tech picks Gregory
Georgia Tech has selected Dayton coach Brian Gregory to rebuild its beleaguered basketball program, which fell on hard times after reaching the national title game in 2004.
Dayton’s athletic department sent out a notice Monday morning on Twitter confirming Gregory, 44, was leaving to coach the Yellow Jackets. He’ll replace Paul Hewitt, who was dumped shortly after the school’s fourth losing season in six years.
Georgia Tech officials would not comment, pending official approval of Gregory’s contract.
The school was preparing to hold a late afternoon news conference.
The Dayton Daily News initially reported Gregory was leaving the Flyers.
The 44-year-old Gregory has coached at Dayton for eight seasons, posting a record of 172-94. He guided the Flyers to a pair of NCAA appearances, reaching the second round in 2009 with an upset of West Virginia. Dayton also won the NIT in 2010, beating North Carolina in the championship game.
Dayton had only one losing season under Gregory and won at least 20 games five times, including a 22-14 mark (7-9 in the Atlantic 10) this season. The Flyers earned another trip to the NIT, but were defeated by the College of Charleston 94-84 in the opening round.
Gregory takes over a program that reached the national championship game in 2004 but fell on hard times in recent years. The Yellow Jackets’ were 13-18 this season and 11th in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 5-11. Hewitt was fired just two days after the season ended with another ugly loss, 59-43 to Virginia Tech in the opening round of the ACC tournament.
Making the rebuilding job more difficult for Gregory: Georgia Tech won’t have a true home arena his first season. The school is building a new campus arena on the site of Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Until it opens in 2012, the Yellow Jackets will split home games between downtown Philips Arena and the suburban Gwinnett Arena.
Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich said last week he hoped to have a new coach hired before the Final Four.