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April 1, 2014

Martin returning as Vol head man

After interviewing with Marquette on Sunday, Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin withdrew his name from the Golden Eagles search just after midnight Tuesday morning and will remain Tennessee's head basketball coach.

"We are proud that Cuonzo Martin will continue to lead our men's basketball program," Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart said in a statement. "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.

"We have high standards and expectations for continued improvement and results in every sport in our program. Having said that, our strong finishes within the conference the past three years, prioritizing academics, representing the University with class and operating within the parameters dictated by the University of Tennessee and the NCAA matters greatly. Additionally, the social culture of the men's basketball program has vastly improved under Cuonzo's leadership."

Martin made $1.3 million last season and received a $75,000 bonus for making the Sweet Sixteen. Under his original contract, the 2015-2016 season is the final year of his contract. Martin's salary ranked 10th among SEC head coaches. That number will potentially change according to Hart's statement, which did not provide specifics in terms of a potential raise.

"We are working on modifications to Cuonzo's current contract and will release details of those adjustments when finalized," Hart said.

According to sources, Hart and Martin had a conversation on Saturday when the two returned from Indianapolis and the Sweet Sixteen. On Monday, they had two separate meeting the second ending sometime just after 10 p.m. and some two hours prior to Martin withdrawing his name from the Marquette job. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Martin said his heart and his desire is to remain in Knoxville.

"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," Martin said in the joint release.

"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!"

In three years, Martin has led Tennessee to a 63-41 record, including a 32-20 record in the SEC.

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