Buzz Peterson’s reunion with Appalachian State was consummated Wednesday after a month of negotiation.
Peterson reboots his coaching career after a two-year hiatus, being named head basketball coach at the school he led to three Southern Conference regular-season titles and the 2000 NCAA tournament.
“Some people don’t go back,’’ Peterson said in a teleconference, “but for me I felt like it was the right time.
“For me the urge to coach again and (re-)start my career where it began was so attractive.’’
Primarily because of his success at the Boone, N.C., school from 1996-2000, Peterson was hired by Tennessee in 2001. He was fired in 2005 with a 61-59 record.
Appalachian State offered Peterson the job in early April, but a week later he turned it down to stay as director of player personnel for the NBA Charlotte Bobcats.
Appy State interviewed several other candidates, including Ed Conroy, Peterson’s former assistant at UT who had an outstanding season at The Citadel.
However, Peterson remained the top target, according to several reports, and changed his mind when the school made another, presumably sweeter, offer.
“I guess the bottom line really to everything,’’ Peterson said, “is that the opportunity to work on a day-to-day basis with a student-athlete is something I really want to be a part of.’’
Peterson had a .669 winning percentage (79-39) during his four years at Appy State.
He left for Tulsa in 2000-01, went 26-11 and won the NIT, then jumped to Tennessee, calling it a dream job, when the Vols fired Jerry Green.
Peterson’s tenure at Tennessee produced two NIT bids but no NCAA tournaments. His best record was 17-12 in 2002-03. He was fired after his 2004-05 team finished 14-17.
His successor, Bruce Pearl, achieved immediate success with the players Peterson left behind, including C.J. Watson, Chris Lofton, JaJuan Smith, Dane Bradshaw and Major Wingate. Pearl’s first team went 22-8, 12-4 in the SEC.
After UT, Peterson coached two seasons at Coastal Carolina with a 35-25 mark. He left coaching to become director of player personnel for the Bobcats at the invitation of his old North Carolina college roommate Michael Jordan.
Peterson is 201-134 in 11 seasons as a head coach.
Peterson replaces Houston Fancher at Appy State. Fancher took over the program in 2000 when Peterson left for Tulsa.
“This is the place where I want to make a difference and a lasting impression,’’ Peterson said.
“I’m looking for somewhere I can go and coach 12-15 years. ... This is somewhere I would love to finish my career and walk away.’’