April 4th, 2011 09:42 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Tennessee
Tags: Missouri State, NCAA, Richmond Chris Mooney, UT
According to University of Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek, “playing by the rules,” was a key characteristic the Vols were searching for in a new basketball coach. It’s doubtful UT meant that as a slap at Bruce Pearl as he went out the door and more likely that the school’s leadership was trying to send a message to the NCAA:
“We get it, we get it. Don’t spank us!”
With that in mind, the Vols set out to find a new coach with a good track record, good recommendations, a willingness to take over a program that’s about to be hit by the NCAA, a willingness to try to replace the popular Pearl, AND a clean bill of health when it comes to past compliance.
The last bit is what kept UT from chasing Richmond’s Chris Mooney. Mooney’s program was hit in 2007 with “major” violations tied to an assistant’s phone calls and texts. Mooney fired the assistant, but the head coach was cited for failing to monitor his program.
With the NCAA’s sword dangling by a thread above them, Tennessee officials couldn’t risk bringing in anyone with a big red X on his resume.
Enter Cuonzo Martin from Missouri State. He had the reputation and recommendations UT was looking for (after several Tier 1 candidates said “not interested”). But what about his NCAA history?
The Knoxville News Sentinel did some digging and found that there were two violations under Martin at his last job. But despite the scary headline: “Records show two violations at Missouri State under Cuonzo Martin’s watch,” both violations were secondary and both were self-reported.
In other words, Martin’s about as clean as a coach can be as he arrives in Knoxville. That’s a big plus for the Vols who go before the Committee on Infractions in June.
Of course, Pearl, too, had only secondary violations on his record, too — including having a junior over to his house at his last stop — when he arrived from UW-Milwaukee in 2005.
For those who will want to comment/email saying that Pearl was shown the door at UT last month for secondary violations, please remember that Pearl was in NCAA hot water for his cover-up of his secondary violations. The small stuff didn’t get him… lying about the small stuff did.
Martin, obviously, will want to avoid secondary violations while Tennessee goes through a period of probation. And if/when he doesn’t, he’ll need to fess about it and make sure minor issues don’t become major. He can learn that lesson from his predecessor.
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