KNOXVILLE — After flirting with the coaching vacancy at Marquette, Tennessee men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin has taken his name out of consideration for the position, a source close to Martin told the Times Free Press early Tuesday morning.
ESPN reported that Martin, who just finished his third year with the Volunteers, met with the Golden Eagles on Sunday and that the Big East Conference program had "serious interest" in him.
Martin likely met with members of Tennessee's athletic department on Monday. Tennessee's season ended on Friday night with a 73-71 loss to Michigan in the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 in Indianapolis.
Shortly after the buyout on his contract dropped from $2.6 million to $1.3 million at midnight Monday, it appears Martin will not be heading to Milwaukee. He was first linked to the job by an ESPN report on Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours following Tennessee's loss.
And a little more than 24 hours after meeting with Marquette officials, Martin appears to be staying at Tennessee.
In three seasons with the Vols, Martin is 63-41 overall and 32-20 in the SEC. After two National Invitation Tournament appearances, Tennessee won five of its last six games after scuffling throughout the regular season to grab one of the last at-large bids into the NCAA tournament.
Once in the 68-team field, the Vols beat Iowa in a "First Four" game in Dayton, then swept aside Massachusetts and Mercer in the rounds of 64 and 32 in Raleigh, N.C. The run ended against the Wolverines, though the Vols erased a 15-point second-half deficit and had possession down one until Jarnell Stokes was called for a charge with less than 10 seconds left.
After his second season, Martin received a $50,000 raise, bumping his salary to $1.35 million, which ranks 11th in the SEC. He has two years left on his remaining five-year contract. It appears likely, though, that staying with Tennessee will result in a raise and extension.
While Tennessee, with two All-SEC players in Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes, was struggling during the regular season, a growing vocal minority of the fan base called for Martin's job before the season was over, and an online petition to bring back popular former coach Bruce Pearl, who was hired last month at Auburn, received more than 36,000 signatures.
One online report late last week said some Tennessee boosters denied use of their private planes for basketball recruiting.
Another source said last week Martin was unhappy with athletic director Dave Hart hugging him on the floor following the win against Mercer that clinched only the program's seventh trip to the NCAA tournament's round of 16.
Yet it appears for now that Martin will be back as Tennessee's coach.
More details online and in the Times Free Press as they develop.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...