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NCAA: Cal Golden Bears Hire Ex-Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin

The California Golden Bears hired former Tennessee Volunteers head men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin on April 15.

Apr 15 2014, 10:16pm CDT | by

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NCAA: Cal Golden Bears Hire Ex-Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin

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NCAA: Cal Golden Bears Hire Ex-Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin

NCAA: Cal Golden Bears Hire Ex-Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The California Golden Bears hired former Tennessee Volunteers head men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin

The Golden Bears' official athletics website made the announcement on April 15. 

"Bringing a track record of success that includes a conference Coach of the Year honor and postseason berths each of the past five seasons, Cuonzo Martin has been named the 16th head men's basketball coach at the University of California, Berkley, Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour announced. 

"Martin, who guided Tennessee the past three years, including a spot in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in March, and previously led the program at Missouri State for three seasons, has been tabbed to lead the Golden Bears following an extensive national search. 

"He will oversee a young Cal program that welcomes back three starters and five of its top seven scorers from a 21-win campaign in 2013-14."

An April 15 ESPN update states Martin was offered a five-year deal. Financial terms were not immediately made available. 

Martin told CalBears.com he believes the program can build on the success it has had in the past few seasons. 

"I am pleased to be here and honored to have the opportunity to lead the University of California's men's basketball program. The conditions for success at Cal are right and I believe we can compete at the highest level and continue the success here in Berkley.

"Sandy Barbour's reputation nationally is outstanding and having the opportunity to work with her and to coach at Cal is one that I am very excited about. This is an incredible academic and athletic institution and I am now proud to now be a part of it as well as the Pac-12 Conference." 

For her part, Barbour hailed Martin as the total head coaching package, per the press release on the university's athletics website.

"Cuonzo brings a strong track record of success on the court, in the classroom and in the community. He is known as and is committed to developing his student-athletes both as basketball players and as men. He has been a leader and a winner everywhere he has been.

"We are excited to have Coach Martin join our Golden Bears athletic family and look forward to much success during his tenure."

Tennessee fans instigated an online petition to bring back former Volunteers head men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl in light of the team's early-season struggles under Martin in 2013. Martin and his players then made a statement by winning eight of their next nine games and reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, per ESPN. 

Martin told ESPN the petition "wasn't a big deal at all." 

He was also one of the candidates for the Marquette Golden Eagles head coaching job which eventually went to former Duke Blue Devils assistant Steve Wojciechowski. Martin eventually backed out and said via a statement from the University of Tennessee on April 1 (courtesy of ESPN) that "Tennessee is where I want to be. That has never changed." 

Apparently, it has. 

The ESPN report stresses Martin met with University of Tennessee director of athletics Dave Hart, who did not know Martin was in the running for the California job, on April 15. Hart said Martin left because he thought it was the best option for his family. 

Hart said,"We did have a conversation. He was very emotional. The bottom line is he said this was best for (him) and his family."

In spite of Martin being in the bottom tier as far as SEC coaches' salaries are concerned, Hart said he does not believe Martin left because of this, per ESPN.

"Hart said he did not believe Martin left because of money. Martin was set to make $1.35 million the next two years, which ranked him in the bottom half of Southeastern Coference coaches, but Hart said Tennessee offered him a two-year extension worth $1.8 million in each of the next four years.

"Martin's buyout option from Tennessee dropped from $2.6 million to $1.3 million on April 1." 

Martin, a first-team All-Big Ten member in 1995, replaces the recently-retired Mike Montogmery on the California bench. Montgomery exits with a 677-317 career record, according to The Associated Press (via CSN Bay Area).  

Martin went 24-13 last season and 63-41 during his three-year tenure at Tennessee. 

 

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Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.

 

 

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