Contract sheds light on search firm to hire Cuonzo Martin

Cuonzo Martin speaks to reporters during a news conference Monday, March 28, 2011 in Knoxville, Tenn. after being named the new men's head basketball coach at the University of Tennessee replacing Bruce Pearl.

Photo by Wade Payne, Associated Press

Cuonzo Martin speaks to reporters during a news conference Monday, March 28, 2011 in Knoxville, Tenn. after being named the new men's head basketball coach at the University of Tennessee replacing Bruce Pearl.

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.

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Comments » 26

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say KNS get their moneys worth with this Headline writer. Witch Doctor say he good.
Bones never lie.

dvols writes:

search firms are a huge waste of money, what ever happened to being accountable and hiring the best candidate.....

don't need a bunch of lawyers for that

go Cuonzo!

tovolny writes:

Witch Doctor can spot them.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to dvols:

search firms are a huge waste of money, what ever happened to being accountable and hiring the best candidate.....

don't need a bunch of lawyers for that

go Cuonzo!

Many times the best candidate doesn't want to be hired. A search firm provides plausible deniability for both sides (necessary when the media keeps meddling and critiquing your every move). Apparently they screwed up, though, with the baseball asst from South Carolina in that he was given an interview even though Serrano had already said yes. Further, a search firm keeps emotions out of the equation.

CoverOrange writes:

KNS editors need to review Mike's work. The first, second and fourth from last paragraph don't read well and need to be re-written.

headforTheHill writes:

Coach Martin has Integrity. That's what these young athletes need to learn even more than thier position. Good hire UT. Walk-on or McDonald all-american, his players will play with heart.

OwensboroVol writes:

$110,000.00 to hire a coach????? Alabama send their AD to Miami with a Briefcase full of money and hired Saban. I'm just saying that this was money they did not need to spend. We need to get back to the old days where a search team of University employees did the hiring. I trust those folks to do the right thing.

hueypilot writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

$110,000.00 to hire a coach????? Alabama send their AD to Miami with a Briefcase full of money and hired Saban. I'm just saying that this was money they did not need to spend. We need to get back to the old days where a search team of University employees did the hiring. I trust those folks to do the right thing.

Alabama sent the same AD to Hire Dennis Francione, Mike Price, Mike Dubose and Mike Shula, so I'm not sure that 1 for 5 will get you in the AD hall of fame. Clearly Bear Bryant's protection of his old asst coach, Mal Moore, extends from well outside the grave.

lafollette37766 writes:

Nothing against Coach Martin, I really do hope he does very well, but I know people inside the athletic dept. and I was told that he was the only one who showed interest in the job. How close they were to the situation I do not know but they did know almost to the day and hour of Pearl and Hamiltons departures.

AHoffman writes:

Is this the same firm that recruited Kiffin?

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Honestly I don't care how they search and hire. I do hope it'll work out but the process to me as a fan isn't that interesting. No offense KNS. lol I did read the article though.

born2ride writes:

$110,000 and that was the best they could do?

Orange_Scooter writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Nobody cares what you think.

VOLSMAN1999 writes:

I honstly think that Martin is a good hire but now the truth comes out. All the Hammy supporters were saying what a good job he did hiring Martin and what a good job he did in fund raising. It is a good thing he could raise money because he sure could spend it the way he gave contracts with huge buyouts. I am pretty sure that even I could have spent $110,000 for a search firm and hired Martin myself.

MikeInTN writes:

I really wish Coach Martin the very best, but I can't stop thinking this isn't going to be a pretty ride. I sure as h*%# hope I'm wrong!!

Chris4Vols22 writes:

in response to MikeInTN:

I really wish Coach Martin the very best, but I can't stop thinking this isn't going to be a pretty ride. I sure as h*%# hope I'm wrong!!

At thee very least, we should see a coherent game-plan and an offense that knows what it's doing. We've been missing that for some time now. Combine that with the probability of some players actually improving their game over time, it may not be that bad even if we have a rough first season. Who knows though...I'm a fan of Martin, so I'm cheering as loud for him as I ever did for Bruce. GTBATV!!

carbonzip writes:

Martin was a good choice and I really like the staff he has put together. They will develop a good program for UT.

vut56#231073 writes:

What a scoop! Through a "public information request," KNS determined routine details that would be included in any agreement between any search firm and any potential customer. That would include a part-time administrative assistant for your local, family physician.

Aren't you thankful for this public service and "inside information"? Did you ever think Parker did this search pro bono...or without committments on the part of both parties?

IJS

Kelly8 writes:

in response to vut56#231073:

What a scoop! Through a "public information request," KNS determined routine details that would be included in any agreement between any search firm and any potential customer. That would include a part-time administrative assistant for your local, family physician.

Aren't you thankful for this public service and "inside information"? Did you ever think Parker did this search pro bono...or without committments on the part of both parties?

IJS

The story is infinitely more interesting than your commentary. What do you want KNS to write about? Smokies baseball? There is nothing else going on, and this is an interesting story to some people. If you don't like the story, don't read it. If you're too highbrow for the KNS sports page, go read the Wall Street Journal.

volcraze writes:

in response to headforTheHill:

Coach Martin has Integrity. That's what these young athletes need to learn even more than thier position. Good hire UT. Walk-on or McDonald all-american, his players will play with heart.

I agree with you 100% Lets hope we are right.

vut56#231073 writes:

in response to Kelly8:

The story is infinitely more interesting than your commentary. What do you want KNS to write about? Smokies baseball? There is nothing else going on, and this is an interesting story to some people. If you don't like the story, don't read it. If you're too highbrow for the KNS sports page, go read the Wall Street Journal.

Point well taken, although Mr. Murdock's business rag is a little further down the list than even the KNS. I admit we feed the beast by acknowledging we even read it.

My thought always is that you and I just deserve better than we get. Knoxville, East Tennessee and UT fans are loyal and interested in their teams...even though we may disagree on aspects of the program. In many college and three-sport pro team towns, if nothing is happening...nothing is reported. That works just fine. Forcing non-news, and making it appear it is news, serves no one other than the advertisers (I suppose)

GerryOP writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yup, the UTAD and KNS goes out trolling and ... surprise, surprise, surprise ... lil' zzgataboy swallowed the bait hook, line, and sinker!

Dalton writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Alabama sent the same AD to Hire Dennis Francione, Mike Price, Mike Dubose and Mike Shula, so I'm not sure that 1 for 5 will get you in the AD hall of fame. Clearly Bear Bryant's protection of his old asst coach, Mal Moore, extends from well outside the grave.

Amen Huey...AD Hall of Fame for one no brain hire after a string of failures is gospel to trolls and apathetic Vol fans who wait for success to stop their Richard Lewis and Woody Allen diatribes...I don't like spending 100 K to hire a coach but it's the way to do business in college athletics nowadays so deal folks...we have one failed hire in Raleigh...Kiffin is a feminine hygiene product...but an able coach and great recruiter and Pearl was a success story before panic lies waylaid him so why do we hear moans?. Tell you what. I'll be over here cheering for our teams and WHEN they flourish I might let you toenails sit next to me....MAZZUL MAZZUL

JohnnyD writes:

what a waste of money! 110,000 to make 5 phone calls?

johnlg00 writes:

in response to JohnnyD:

what a waste of money! 110,000 to make 5 phone calls?

It's not about what the search firm did for the money, it's the fact that THEY made the calls rather than some UT official. This is how searches for high-visibility coaching jobs are done these days. Someone not officially connected to the university can call to gauge interest without anybody being put on the spot to confirm or deny contact from the school. You can call it saving face or maintaining confidentiality, but it saves a school from announcing--or having some whistleblower announce--that they have offered Coach X-n-O a job and him saying, "I wouldn't coach at that place if gave me the deed to the campus." Who knows, Coach X-n-O might BE interested at some later date and no one has to explain any earlier negative remarks then. That deniability is what a school pays a search firm for.

JDL211 writes:

in response to JohnnyD:

what a waste of money! 110,000 to make 5 phone calls?

Right. That's what they did. Made 5 phone calls and called it a day. Maybe you should just stick to the Scotty Hopson debate where your bad post would be less noticeable.

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