KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — March Madness has arrived for college basketball fans, but it’s the third straight season the Tennessee’s mens team will watching from the sidelines.
Newly hired Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin was in charge of the Vols’ program the last time Tennessee played in the postseason, when UT won 8 of its final 10 games and reached the Sweet 16 in 2014.
Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discuss Martin’s legacy at Tennessee, as a handful of Vols’ fans on social media have continued to pick at Martin in curious fashion even three years after his departure.
Prior to Martin’s three-year tenure in Knoxville, the Vols had made six consecutive NCAA Tournament runs under Bruce Pearl, leading to heightened expectations.
The Vols had settled for NIT tournaments Martin’s two previous seasons, so there had been unrest in the fanbase, some taking out a petition to bring back Pearl.
Outgoing UT athletic director Dave Hart — John Currie officially assumes that position on April 1 — did not publicly support Martin and was slow to offer a contact extension.
Once the contract offer came, it had a very low buyout figure, which would have made it easier for Hart to fire Martin the next season should Tennessee not wish to retain his services.
Martin’s players loved him, he ran a disciplined program with minimal off-court issues and a strong academic record, and he developed three NBA players in his three seasons at Tennessee, signing two of them.
But the lack of support from Hart and the low-ball buyout clause was the final straw, so Martin took a job coaching at California where he has been the past three years.
Hart then hired Donnie Tyndall, a coach who had leftover NCAA issues from his previous coaching stop at Southern Miss. Tyndall was 16-16 in his only year in Knoxville and is no longer allowed to coach at the NCAA Division I level.
Tennessee basketball by year since 2000:
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