Tennessee hires Missouri State's Martin

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee hired Missouri State's Cuonzo Martin on Sunday to take over a Volunteers program facing punishment by the NCAA for recruiting violations.

Martin, 39, replaces the popular Bruce Pearl, who was fired March 21, a month after being charged with unethical conduct for lying to NCAA investigators.

Martin was hired in 2008 by Missouri State after eight years as an assistant at Purdue and went 61-41 in three seasons. He was chosen this season's Missouri Valley Conference coach of the year after the Bears finished 26-9 and won the program's first MVC regular-season championship.

"Cuonzo is among the most promising young coaches in the game, and we are excited about the coaching ability, toughness and energy that he brings to our program," Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said.

As a player, Martin scored 1,666 points in 127 career games with Purdue and set the Boilermakers' single-game record for 3-pointers with eight in an NCAA regional semifinal victory over Kansas in 1994.

He 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.

A press conference to introduce Martin was scheduled for this afternoon.

Martin and Missouri State faced Tennessee on Nov. 17 in the second round of the preseason NIT, a close game won by the Vols, 60-56. Tennessee went on to win the tournament after victories over Virginia Commonwealth and Villanova.

It was one of the lone bright spots in the Vols' season after Pearl acknowledged on Sept. 10 misleading the NCAA investigation about a cookout at his home attended by high school juniors. The NCAA has since charged the Tennessee basketball and football programs with a dozen violations.

Pearl was fired after school officials became aware of additional potential violations committed by Pearl and his staff. The NCAA said Pearl violated its "bump rule" on Sept. 14 after speaking with a high school junior.

In six seasons, Pearl, 51, amassed a 145-61 record and led the Volunteers to their first No. 1 ranking in 2008, first Southeastern Conference regular-season championship in four decades and first NCAA tournament regional finals appearance, missing out on a trip to the 2010 Final Four by a single point.

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