MU's basketball coaching search becoming limited

Monday, March 28, 2011 | 10:33 p.m. CDT; updated 1:22 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Less than a week into MU's search for a new men's basketball coach, the college basketball coaching landscape has seen a number of changes.

On Wednesday, after five seasons with the Tigers, Mike Anderson left Missouri to become the new coach at Arkansas. On Monday, several names mentioned as possible replacements solidified their situations elsewhere.

  • Missouri State's Cuonzo Martin was introduced Monday as the new coach at Tennessee, where the basketball program is facing punishment by the NCAA for recruiting violations. Martin replaces Bruce Pearl, who was fired March 21, a month after being charged with unethical conduct for lying to NCAA investigators.

Martin was one of 14 candidates Tennessee Athletics Director Mike Hamilton Hamilton said the Volunteers seriously considered. Tennessee gave Martin a five-year deal guaranteeing him $1.3 million per year plus bonuses related to the team's success with the option of a two-year extension after a 24-month review.

The school also gave Martin protection in his contract against whatever sanctions the NCAA hands down. His original deal will be extended based on the number of years Tennessee is punished either with restrictions on recruiting, a ban on postseason play or a reduction of scholarships.

Martin went 61-41 in three seasons at Missouri State. During his tenure, the Bears improved from 11-20 in his first season to 26-9 in the 2010-11 season, earning them their first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship and Martin the MVC coach of the year honor.

Before Missouri State, Martin was a player at Purdue, scoring 1,666 points in 127 career games and setting the Boilermakers' single-game record for 3-pointers with eight in an NCAA regional semifinal victory over Kansas in 1994.

Afterward, he spent eight years as an assistant coach at Purdue under Gene Keady and Matt Painter, who is another coach that Missouri is thought to be interested in. Reports say Painter is set to talk with Missouri soon.

Martin, an East St. Louis, Ill., native, was selected 57th overall in the 1995 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks and played in the NBA for four years, including stints with the Milwaukee Bucks and Vancouver Grizzlies.

  • Also on Monday, Brian Gregory, the coach at Dayton for the past eight seasons, was introduced as the new coach at Georgia Tech. Gregory replaces Paul Hewitt, who was fired shortly after the team wrapped up its fourth losing season in the past six years with an ugly loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

Gregory received a six-year, $6-million contract to coach at Georgia Tech, where the athletic program is saddled with heavy debt and further burdened by a $7.2 million buyout that Hewitt is owed over the next five years.

Gregory went 172-94 at Dayton. He guided the Flyers to a pair of NCAA appearances, reaching the second round in 2009 with an upset of West Virginia. Dayton also won the NIT in 2010, beating North Carolina in the championship game.

Dayton had only one losing season under Gregory and won at least 20 games five times. But the team is coming off a disappointing season, going 7-9 in the Atlantic 10 and 22-14 overall. The Flyers failed to reach the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row, losing to Richmond in the final of the A-10 tournament.

  • Another Monday announcement said that Richmond men's basketball coach Chris Mooney has signed a 10-year contract extension with the Spiders after leading them to the Sweet 16.

The school, clearly anticipating that Mooney could attract interest from schools in the traditional power conferences, said Mooney signed the deal Sunday night.

"I'm going to stay at Richmond and I'm thrilled with the opportunity," Mooney said. "I know there were some schools that were interested, and obviously I'm flattered and appreciate the interest, but I reallly love where the program is going at Richmond."

It is the third straight year that Mooney, 38, has received an extension, and this one carries through the 2020-2021 season, but the school said other terms will not be released.

The deal comes after the Spiders set a school record with 29 victories, eclipsing the previous record of 26 set last season. Richmond also won the Atlantic-10 tournament for the first time in its 10 years in the league, and a berth in the NCAA tournament's round of 16 for just the second time.

Richmond (29-8) was beaten 77-57 by Kansas in the regional semifinals on Friday night.

Mooney has a 112-87 record in six years at Richmond, and the team has accumulated 91 victories over the past four seasons, the most of any team in the Spiders' 99-year history.

  • Meanwhile, USA Today is reporting that Virginia Commonwealth Athletics Director Norwood Teague says he will be proactive about keeping 33-year-old coach Shaka Smart in Richmond, Va.

The Rams became just the fifth No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four with a 71-61 upset over Kansas on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament's regional finals.

The report says Smart has a $325,000 base salary, but will earn in excess of $500,000 this season with tournament bonuses.

Last week, Missouri was preparing a $2 million-a-year deal for Anderson to stay with the Tigers.

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Ellis Smith March 29, 2011 | 6:56 a.m.

"On Monday several names mentioned as replacements solidified their situations elsewhere."

Why those disgusting, ungrateful wretches! How dare they! People might get the impression this is about money.
[Sarcasm button fully engaged.]

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