Late Monday night, Tennessee Volunteers head men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin called up the Marquette Golden Eagles and told them “thanks, but no thanks” in regards to accepting their offer to take over their program, meaning that the coach would be staying in Knoxville.
On Tuesday, both Director of Athletics Dave Hart and Martin issued statements about his commitment to the university and the basketball program.
From AD Hart:
“We are proud that Cuonzo Martinwill continue to lead our men’s basketball program. His three Tennessee teams have finished in the upper echelon of the SEC, and each of those teams entered the month of March in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid. His third team excelled in the postseason.
“The past three seasons here at the University of Tennessee have been extremely rewarding for me, my family and my staff. We accepted some unique challenges when we took over this program in 2011, but our recent run to the Sweet Sixteen proves that our blueprint for achieving excellence both on and off the court can generate tremendous results.
“Just as our players have `bought in’ and made a commitment to doing things the right way in all aspects of their lives, my staff and I feel a strong commitment to them and their continued growth as men.
“Tennessee is where I want to be. That has never changed. I have said many times over the past three years that I believe we have the resources and support to be the last team standing, and that belief has never been stronger. I appreciate the unrivaled passion of this fanbase and feel the responsibility to make those fans proud. I also appreciate the commitment that the university and athletic department leadership have shown to this staff. I am excited about the future and remain honored to be the head basketball coach at Tennessee. Go Vols!”
Some see Martin staying in Knoxville as rather surprising, given the fact that when the team was struggling, a lot of the fans were calling for his firing, as well as the potential re-hire of Bruce Pearl.
However, down the stretch run of the season, Martin led this Volunteers team to within seconds of the Elite 8, and it’ll be fun to see how much the program progresses from here.