A former Tennessee head basketball coach is on his way back to the SEC.
Cuonzo Martin, who led the Vols from from 2011-14, is leaving the University of California after a three-year stint to go to Missouri, where he will lead the University of Missouri after the departure of Kim Anderson. Martin’s deal with the Tigers will be for seven years and $21 million, according to multiple reports. Martin, who grew up in East St. Louis, Ill., will be coaching approximately two hours away from his home.
— Mizzou Basketball (@MizzouHoops) March 15, 2017
Martin’s tenure in California ended after a 73-66 loss to Cal State Bakersfield in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament on Tuesday.
He had mixed success in his three years with the Golden Bears. While he significantly raised the talent for Cal with players such as five-star recruits Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb, the Bears struggled to capitalize on it – recording just one trip to the NCAA Tournament in three years under his watch.
He departs with 61.4 percent winning percentage at California, very similar to his marks at prior stops at Tennessee (60.6) and Missouri State (59.8).
Martin’s been a polarizing figure for Tennessee fans after he left following a Sweet 16 run in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. That run came following a widely-circulated petition started by UT fans to rehire former coach Bruce Pearl as he was coming off his NCAA-mandated show cause. Frustration around Martin built as the team appeared to be underachieving in his third year in Knoxville despite having several future pros on the roster. By the time Martin made his run in the tournament, the relationship with the school appeared to be strained, and despite a new contract offer from the Vols, Martin opted to move on.
Now Martin will take over one of the most challenging jobs in the league.
The Tigers haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2013-13 and didn’t win more than 10 games in any season under Anderson.