Cuonzo Martin introduced by Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Cuonzo Martin says he did his homework on the possible NCAA punishment Tennessee faces before agreeing to accept the job as the Volunteers' new men's basketball coach.
In addition to his own due diligence regarding the NCAA, Martin said Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton "has assured me it will all work out."
Tennessee introduced Martin, 39 as the Vols' new coach Monday, just a week after Bruce Pearl was fired for recruiting violations. Martin takes over not knowing what kind of sanctions the NCAA might impose. 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 -- Gene Keady -- before deciding to hire him as someone who can win at 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 noted Tennessee's rich tradition and how he played against Allan Houston. He said he called Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt and wished her luck in a regional semifinal against Notre Dame on Monday night, and he became a fan of Peyton Manning while living in Indiana.
When Tennessee officials contacted him, Martin said he checked into what the Vols face and weighed that against what he called "a great opportunity."
"After that, there wasn't a lot of reservations at all," Martin said.
Martin went 61-41 in three seasons at Missouri State after eight years as an assistant coach at Purdue under Keady and Matt Painter. During his tenure, the Bears improved from 11-20 in his first season to 26-9 in the 2010-11 season, earning them their first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship and Martin the MVC coach of the year honor.
As a player at Purdue, Martin scored 1,666 points in 127 career games and set the Boilermakers' single-game record for 3-pointers with eight in an NCAA regional semifinal victory over Kansas in 1994.
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.
While playing in Europe in November of 1997, Martin was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He returned to the United States for treatment of a malignant tumor between his heart and lungs, and is currently in full remission.
Martin replaces a coach who went 145-61 in the past six seasons in Pearl. Martin said he would reach out to Pearl, who recruited him coming out of high school.
Under Pearl, the Volunteers made school history during his tenure by achieving their first No. 1 ranking in 2008, winning their first Southeastern Conference regular-season championship in four decades and reaching their first NCAA tournament regional finals before missing out on a trip to the 2010 Final Four by a single point.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press