Martin abruptly leaves Tennessee to take Cal job
A more relaxed fan base, milder weather and a chance to coach at the top-rated public university in the country added up to Cuonzo Martin making the decision to leave Tennessee for California.
Cal hired Martin as the 16th men's basketball coach in school history Tuesday, a decision that stunned Volunteers administrators and players after he had reaffirmed his commitment to Tennessee just two weeks ago. Martin said it was a difficult move but the opportunity at Cal was too much to pass up.
"It's a beautiful place. I got off the plane and I just said, 'Ahhh,'" Martin said during his introductory news conference in Berkeley. "I think it has a chance to be special here. I think that's the most intriguing thing to me. It's a place I could spend the rest of my life."
Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said Martin's contract, which is still being finalized, is for five years. Financial details will be released at a later date.
Martin also said he will bring "quite a few" of his assistant coaches from Tennessee to Cal once his contract is complete.
Martin, 42, replaces Mike Montgomery, who retired last month after six seasons in Berkeley. Martin went 63-41 in three seasons at Tennessee, including a 24-13 mark and an appearance in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament this season. He also was previously the coach at Missouri State.
Martin's decision left players, administrators and fans back in Knoxville stunned. Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart said he didn't know Martin was involved in the Cal job until they spoke Tuesday morning. Michigan sophomores turning pro
Michigan sophomores Nik Stauskas and Glen Robinson III have decided to enter the NBA draft. Stauskas, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, averaged 17.5 points and earned Big Ten player of the year honors this past season. The 6-6 Robinson came on strong toward the end of the season and finished with a 13.1 point average. Mitch McGary has not decided whether he will stay in school or go pro.
■ Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson are leaving Arizona for the NBA. One of the top freshmen this past season, Gordon was widely expected to leave after one season. He averaged 12.4 points and 8 rebounds and was named Pac-12 freshman of the year. Johnson, a junior, led Arizona with 16.3 points per game last season.
■ Michigan State forward Branden Dawson is staying for his senior season. Dawson made the choice after he and his mother met with Coach Tom Izzo. The 6-6 Dawson averaged a career-high 11.2 points this past season and 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in the NCAA Tournament.
■ Syracuse sophomore forward Jerami Grant is entering the NBA Draft. The 6-8 Grant averaged 12.1 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds this past season.
Tarkanian feeling better after heart attack
Former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian is up and moving around at a Las Vegas hospital and could go home this weekend after suffering a heart attack and contracting pneumonia. "He's feeling much better," Tarkanian's son-in-law, Zafi Diamant, said Tuesday. "He's been up and walking around, all in all feeling much better." Tarkanian, 83, was admitted to Valley Hospital last Wednesday after attending the Final Four in North Texas, complaining of weakness, lethargy and labored breathing.
Administrators: NCAA system must change
A panel of college administrators, including Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, agree the NCAA business model has to change to survive. Many athletic departments are flush with cash thanks to multi-million dollar TV deals. Conferences have started their own networks, and coaches' contracts continue to soar. Now athletes are demanding their fair share.
"The landscape as we know it for Division I is going to certainly change in some form or fashion," Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner Beth DeBauche said Tuesday in Nashville during a discussion on integrity and the commercialization of college athletics.
DeBauche said difficult conversations loom in the coming months. There's a gap between the top five conferences with the big-money deals, and she said the majority of the 32 conferences in Division I are more like the OVC. Former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe believes the revenue gap can be bridged, although he said the challenge will be giving a quarterback extra money without taking dollars out of a fellow student's pocket.
"How that all makes sense, I'm not really sure but thank goodness I don't have to" figure it out, Beebe said.
Barnhart pointed to the Olympic model.
He said the organization changed from purely amateur athletes to today's system where many, but not all, Olympians earn money without turning off fans. But the Kentucky AD said he also wants to protect a system that allows a tennis player on scholarship the chance to attend college.
■ The NCAA's Legislative Council approved a proposal Tuesday to expand the meal allowance for all athletes. The move occurred eight days after Connecticut guard Shabazz Napier complained during the Final Four that he sometimes went to bed "starving" because he couldn't afford food. The proposal would allow Division I schools to provide unlimited meals and snacks to all athletes, including walk-ons. The measure still must be approved by the board of directors, which meets April 24.
Legends fall to Braves
The Rome Braves rallied from a two-run deficit to beat the Lexington Legends 5-3 on Tuesday night in Rome, Ga. Legends starter Andrew Edwards pitched five shutout innings, but reliever Luis Rico coughed up a 2-0 lead by allowing three runs in the sixth. Reliever Alex Black allowed two more runs. Frank Schwindel and Fred Ford each had two hits for Lexington.
The last word
Former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson,attempting a comeback with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes:
"I just want to get back to doing something that I love to do, regardless of where it is. Montreal, flag football, back in the street the way I grew up. I just want to play football."