published Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

UT Vols to introduce Southern Mississippi's Donnie Tyndall as their new basketball coach

KNOXVILLE — It's Tyndall time in Tennessee.

The Volunteers' search for a basketball coach is over less than a week after it started.

Hours after a potential deal with Louisiana Tech’s Michael White fell through on Monday, Tennessee turned its attention toward Southern Mississippi coach Donnie Tyndall and agreed to a deal with the 43-year-old Michigan native to replace Cuonzo Martin, who left last week to take the California job.

CBS Sports and ESPN were the first to report Tyndall would be Tennessee's new coach, and Tennessee announced shortly after 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning that the news conference to introduce Tyndall would be at 2 p.m. at Pratt Pavilion.

"I am humbled, appreciative, and thankful for this tremendous opportunity," Tyndall said in a statement released by Tennessee. "We have great tradition at the University of Tennessee and with our men's basketball program, and we will work tirelessly to take our program to new heights."

Tyndall is 56-17 in two seasons with the Golden Eagles following a six-year stint at Morehead State, where he took the Eagles to two NCAA tournaments out of the Ohio Valley Conference and orchestrated an upset over Louisville in the first round of the tournament in 2011.

This season, Southern Miss shared the Conference USA regular-season title with Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee State and Tulsa. The Golden Eagles played in the National Invitation Tournament for the second consecutive season. Tyndall replaced Larry Eustachy, now Colorado State’s coach, in 2011.

"We are excited to add Donnie Tyndall to the Tennessee family," Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in the program's release. "He has a proven track record of success and has won at every level at which he has coached.

"Donnie brings tremendous positive energy and a strong work ethic to this important leadership role, and we look forward to his impact on our men's basketball program."

In January, Tyndall received a raise to $500,000 with an extension through the 2017-18 season and a buyout of $500,000.

His contract with Tennessee is believed to be for six years and is expected to pay him $1.6 million per year.

Before his six-year tenure at Morehead State, Tyndall was an assistant coach at LSU under John Brady and then was an assistant at Idaho and Middle Tennessee State.

In August 2010, the NCAA placed Morehead State on probation for two years and levied sanctions, including the loss of one scholarship and other recruiting limitations, on the program for recruiting violations related to booster activity under Tyndall’s watch.

Tyndall told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger last week that he was happy at Southern Miss.

“I have said in other instances that I am very humbled and proud to be the head coach at Southern Miss,” he told the newspaper. “My working relationship with [athletic director] Bill McGillis, on a scale of 1 to 10, is a 10.

“When other situations arise and my name is mentioned, it is a compliment to our players, coaching staff and the success we’ve had here at Southern Miss.”

The focus of Tennessee's search over the weekend was White, the 37-year-old former Ole Miss point guard and Rebels assistant who is 74-31 in three years with the Bulldogs. According to a CBS Sports report published early Monday afternoon, White’s decision hinged on “more long-term security” in his contract with Louisiana Tech than what “Tennessee seemed willing to provide.”

ESPN later called the buyout in the proposed contract offer the “stumbling block” in the deal.

From there, the Vols and athletic director Dave Hart moved quickly to Tyndall, who is known for his energy and is considered as a bit of a showman. He danced with his team in a "Harlem Shake" video posted on YouTube a year ago. In Tyndall's first season in Hattiesburg, Southern Miss attendance increased by more than 1,000 fans per game and was the program's highest in 20 years, according to the Golden Eagles' official web site.

At his introductory news conference in Hattiesburg in 2012, Tyndall characterized his preferred style of play as "aggressive and attacking" and compared his offensive style to Kansas and defensive style to Louisville.

"Our defense would be similar to Louisville," Tyndall said. "We're going to press on made baskets. We're going to press on dead balls. We're going to get after people in the half court. We're going to have an aggressive zone. We'll pressure the ball and trap different places with ball screens on the floor to try to create turnovers where we can get out and play on the open floor.

"Offensively, we're going to play a lot like Kansas. We run a high-low motion, but we ball screen a lot and give our guards a chance to play to draw and kick off ball screens and shoot a lot of threes. It's going to be exciting and fun for you fans and people to come watch.

"We're going to play unselfish. We're going to play with a toughness and we're going to be a very passionate team. We're certainly going to be classy and sportsmen, but our team is going to be an exciting, passionate, hard-nosed group that will be about toughness and winning. I can assure you that."

In three seasons at Tennessee, Martin was 63-41 overall and led the Vols to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 this season, but the Vols’ new coach must replace four starters and more than 70 percent of the scoring from Martin’s final team.

Tennessee will receive $1.3 million paid in equal installments over the next 48 months from Cal for Martin’s buyout.

Kent Williams is the only assistant coach under Martin still listed on Tennessee's official web site. Tracy Webster and Jon Harris are expected to join Martin's at Cal, and Marco Harris, Martin's director of basketball operations, also will follow martin. The Golden Bears have yet to confirm or announce any staff hires.

Tyndall took two of his three assistant coaches -- Jareem Dowling and Adam Howard -- with him when he moved from Morehead State to Southern Miss, and Justin Phelps, Tyndall's basketball operations director, will follow him to Tennessee.

Basketball coaches usually take a couple of their assistants and other staffers with them when they take new jobs.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.

about Patrick Brown...

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 ...

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