The University of Tennessee was contracted to pay Parker Executive Search $90,000 plus up to $20,000 in expenses in its quest to hire a new basketball coach after Bruce Pearl was fired.
The contract, obtained by the News Sentinel through a public records request, verified what former athletic director Mike Hamilton has worked through a search firm to interview candidates.
The Vols were able to consider numerous candidates in a short amount of time in large part because of the search firm’s efficiency.
New Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin, who was hired away from Missouri State on March 27 — six days after Pearl and his staff were terminated in the wake of an NCAA investigation — said UT’s use of a search firm had no bearing on his decision to take the job.
“Search firms are often used, so to me it’s not important who made the call,’’ Martin said.
“It’s a matter of where I felt was a great opportunity for me and my family’’
According to the contract, which was standard in nature, Parker Executive Search provided:
* Original search and candidate identification.
* Candidate assessment throughout the process.
* Advice and facilitation of the interview/hiring process.
Often times, national search firms like Parker already have candidates in mind for potential openings — even before they are contracted with a prospective client.
Besides suggesting potential candidates, the firm also checks into the candidates the school might additionally have in mind.
In Tennessee’s case, the Vols opened their search with interest in Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, Villanova’s Jay Wright, Alabama coach Anthony Grant, Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon and Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, according to a list obtained from a source in the Vols’ athletic department who at the time requested anonymity.
It would have been standard procedure for the search firm to contact those candidates to gauge interest before advancing the search.
According to Parker’s contract with UT, the firm will set up interviews — telephone or in person — and can suggest questions and interviewing techniques.
Additionally, Parker provided thorough background checks on the potential candidates.
By working through a private entity, UT avoids obligatory public documentation, thus shielding itself and the potential candidates it is interested in from public scrutiny.
Tennessee also used Parker Executive Search to hire football coach Derek Dooley, baseball coach Dave Serrano and is using the firm in its search for an athletic director.