It’s not often that coaches leave NCAA Tournament teams to go to a school that missed the Dance.
But that’s exactly what former Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin did, as he accepted the head coaching job at California.
The move is pretty shocking, as Martin went 63-41 in three season on Rocky Top, and is leaving for a team that will lose its leading scorer/assist man (Justin Cobb) and rebounder (Richard Solomon) due to graduation.
Martin has spent the past three seasons in Knoxville and led the Volunteers to the NCAA tournament this season. He was previously the coach at Missouri State.
Cal hasn’t hired a head coach that spent the previous season as the head coach at another major conference school since 1954 when it brought in Pete Newell of Michigan State, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Newell went on to win the school’s only national championship in 1959.
Earlier this month, Martin said he intended to stay at Tennessee. To that end, Vols athletic director Dave Hart went about trying to rework the coach’s contract, which was set to run through the end of the 2015-16 season.
Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart said in a statement today that “everybody connected with our athletics department and University wish him nothing but success at Cal.” There is no word on a replacement for Martin.