Coaching search update: Belmont's Rick Byrd interviews with UT

The search for Tennessee’s next men’s basketball coach since Bruce Pearl was fired last Monday continues to evolve.

The News Sentinel, from multiple sources with knowledge of the search, has learned that:

* Belmont coach Rick Byrd has interviewed for the job;

* There is mutual interest between UT and Boston Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank;

* Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall is interested in interviewing for the position;

* The Vols’ interest in Richmond coach Chris Mooney cooled after learning of violations committed by a Mooney assistant at Richmond in 2007, and;

* There has been no direct contact between Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon and UT.

The sources each requested anonymity because details of UT’s search haven’t been made public.

CBSsports.com reported Saturday that Xavier coach Chris Mack turned down an eight-year contract worth nearly $2 million a year after being contacted by Parker Executive Search on behalf of the Vols.

According to a UT official with direct knowledge of the search, the school is using the search firm but has not met with Mack.

Byrd has led Belmont to the NCAA tournament four of the past six seasons and was named this year’s Atlantic Sun Conference Coach of the Year. He’s a Knoxville native who attended UT and served as a student assistant coach under former Vols coach Ray Mears.

The mutual interest between Frank and UT has been mitigated by the timetable of the hire, as Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics executive director of basketball operations, told the Boston Herald on Wednesday: “All I know is that Lawrence is under contract with us for the rest of the season . . . ’’

Frank, 40, served as the New Jersey Nets coach (2004-09) prior to his job with the Celtics and was an assistant coach at UT under Kevin O’Neill from 1995-97.

Vols athletic director Mike Hamilton contacted former UT offensive coordinator and current Bowling Green football coach Dave Clawson to discuss Mooney, with whom Clawson coached at Richmond.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in August 2007, one of Mooney’s assistants sent text messages to recruits after the practice was forbidden. Mooney, 38, acknowledged the violation and the assistant was fired.

Marshall, 48, has put the word out he has interest in the Vols’ opening, but his focus right now is on Wichita State’s NIT run.

A source in the Pitt athletic department said there has been no official correspondence between Dixon, 45, and UT. It is Pitt’s policy not to comment on coaching searches.

Villanova coach Jay Wright, 49, Alabama coach Anthony Grant, 44, and Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, 46, joined Dixon and Marshall on the Vols’ immediate list of top candidates after Pearl, 51, was fired.

UT, according to a source within the program, would like to have a new coach in place by April 4.

Mike Griffith covers UT basketball for the News Sentinel. Follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 173

sandiegovolunteer writes:

hmmmm- looks like Butler coach is going to stay put the way they are playing!

texasvol73 writes:

wow Chris Mack turned down 2 million a year??!? Then it may be true that the sanctions are going to make it difficult for us to hire a coach. Not good news on that one...

Cartersvillevol writes:

Championship game last year. Final 4 this year . . . why leave?

agohn writes:

Boo! Boring!

BigVolinCarolina writes:

in response to Cartersvillevol:

Championship game last year. Final 4 this year . . . why leave?

Exactly right! At a place like Butler, Stevens is not anywhere near the highest paid coaches in the country; however, sometimes the place you're at is a great fit and you have a great "quality of life". He seems pretty content there, too.

As much as I'd love to have Stevens, it's not going to happen. I hope our fanbase comes to its senses that just throwing a bunch of money at a coach doesn't mean they're going to leave their school, especially if the school isn't facing the challenges that UT has in months and years to come.

lomas98 writes:

This is exactly why the "wish list" should never be leaked or made public knowledge. All it does is give the fans false hope and sets it up for nobody to be excited about the eventual hire. I still won't believe who the coach actually is until there is a press conference. AFter the way the past football coaching search was reported, nothing is to be believed. Also if Hamilton is not going to hire someone based on a past secondary violation he might as well hire a current high school coach. At least Mooney fired the person responsible and admitted unlike the coach we just had.

CharlotteVol writes:

Interesting that nothin has "leaked" regarding Shaka Smart. Heard him interviewed on Nashville 104.5 and the radio guys were talking about how he worked under Donovan and would love to get back to the SEC.

The list of candidates that "leaked" (BTW nothing leaks unknowingly around here)... are Shaka and Brad Stevens intentionally left off the list because their teams are still playing? If so, it is ironic that Hamilton wouldn't want to be a distraction to them, but he didn't care enough about his own team to throw a grenade 2 days prior... Just sayin'...

chad954ut writes:

Hamilton contacted Dave Clawson to discuss Mooney. What a joke.

carbonzip writes:

Byrd knows basketball. Maybe, he can get something out of Woolridge before it's too late. He has develped some good pg's, too.

lomas98 writes:

in response to carbonzip:

Byrd knows basketball. Maybe, he can get something out of Woolridge before it's too late. He has develped some good pg's, too.

Who are the good pg's and what are they doing now?

GoVols025 writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Exactly right! At a place like Butler, Stevens is not anywhere near the highest paid coaches in the country; however, sometimes the place you're at is a great fit and you have a great "quality of life". He seems pretty content there, too.

As much as I'd love to have Stevens, it's not going to happen. I hope our fanbase comes to its senses that just throwing a bunch of money at a coach doesn't mean they're going to leave their school, especially if the school isn't facing the challenges that UT has in months and years to come.

Butler is still in the NCAA Tourney, so of course we are going to hear nothing about Stevens. I doubt if Stevens is even responding to 3rd party inquiries ... he has a team to coach.

The other thing we all need to understand is that anything heard and repeated by any news outlet is pure speculation. Most states have laws against releasing info about a recruiting situation by any public organization. UT is a public organization.

Madkels writes:

in response to Cartersvillevol:

Championship game last year. Final 4 this year . . . why leave?

Oh...I don't know....maybe:

1) Coach in the SEC against UK, UF, Vandy and non conf foe Memphis. Tell me the teams and the last time you watched the "Horizon League"?
2) Twenty thousand screaming fans
3) National TV exposure during the regular season vs just during the NCAA tourney
4) Fame and Fortune
5) Big time money (if the powers that control it are serious about taking this program to levels even higher than Pearl accomplished) His current salary is not published but is estimated at close to 1 million. He would at least double that at UT.

Beside, Indianapolis owes UT a favor. They got Peyton, so we'll take Brad!

newtonrail writes:

If this was 10 years ago Byrd might be acceptable, but not now. We won't get a Bruce Pearl, but need someone to enliven fan base. I'm older than Byrd so I think I have a right to speak about the age question. If they won't squeaky clean and good coach, I don't know why they haven't looked at Doug Wojcik at Tulsa. He's on ethics Committee.

jbocap writes:

oh geez....please contact Shake Smart as soon as his season is over and get him to Knoxville!

Orangeblood13 writes:

in response to texasvol73:

wow Chris Mack turned down 2 million a year??!? Then it may be true that the sanctions are going to make it difficult for us to hire a coach. Not good news on that one...

From Xavier

Madkels writes:

Byrd would be a safe hire. But this administration has to decide what the plan is going to be. If you want safe, hire Byrd or one of the mid tier coaches. If UT wants to compete with UK, and UF, then you have to get Smart or Stevens. Anyone else is settling for less and taking the program backwards. If you want to move forward, then get out the checkbook and get agressive. I know what Jeremy Foley would do. What are you going to do Hamilton? You are under the microscope so you better get it right.

Orangeblood13 writes:

Welcome to neverland

Dixon would be great

Xavier coach maybe too

Frank is intriguing

The rest and we are the black hole

BigVolinCarolina writes:

in response to Madkels:

Oh...I don't know....maybe:

1) Coach in the SEC against UK, UF, Vandy and non conf foe Memphis. Tell me the teams and the last time you watched the "Horizon League"?
2) Twenty thousand screaming fans
3) National TV exposure during the regular season vs just during the NCAA tourney
4) Fame and Fortune
5) Big time money (if the powers that control it are serious about taking this program to levels even higher than Pearl accomplished) His current salary is not published but is estimated at close to 1 million. He would at least double that at UT.

Beside, Indianapolis owes UT a favor. They got Peyton, so we'll take Brad!

Madkels, your point are legit except for the fact that not every coach is seeking the things you mentioned. Yes, Butler pays less than UT and is not in a high-profile conference like the SEC; however, Butler doesn't have the pressure or expectations that an SEC job would. The difference in money may not be worth the pressures (and NCAA sanctions) that UT has.

Stevens is from Indiana, went to school in Indiana, and looks to be in a great situation. Unless something bad happens, Stevens can probably stay at Butler as long as he wants on his own terms unless he just starts having losing seasons. Can't put a price-tag on that.

Pullingguard writes:

Byrd and Frank!!!! If UT has to take either of these then the program evidently has become totally unattractive because of pending action by NCAA. Just have a feeling that UT will not be able to attract anyone with a good resume' becasue of what Pearl left pending the University.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to jbocap:

oh geez....please contact Shake Smart as soon as his season is over and get him to Knoxville!

Not sold on Smart, think possibly he had a shot in the dark for the 2011 season. I would hope UT could do better.

lomas98 writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Madkels, your point are legit except for the fact that not every coach is seeking the things you mentioned. Yes, Butler pays less than UT and is not in a high-profile conference like the SEC; however, Butler doesn't have the pressure or expectations that an SEC job would. The difference in money may not be worth the pressures (and NCAA sanctions) that UT has.

Stevens is from Indiana, went to school in Indiana, and looks to be in a great situation. Unless something bad happens, Stevens can probably stay at Butler as long as he wants on his own terms unless he just starts having losing seasons. Can't put a price-tag on that.

Not to mention if the Indiana or Notre Dame jobs come available in the next few years, he would bolt. He is a hero in Butler land and has bought himself a contract extension and raise. If he wasn't in the sweet 16 in two years at TN he would hear the wrath of TN fans after the run Bruce had. He can hang out at Butler and name the job he wants when it comes open.

Madkels writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Madkels, your point are legit except for the fact that not every coach is seeking the things you mentioned. Yes, Butler pays less than UT and is not in a high-profile conference like the SEC; however, Butler doesn't have the pressure or expectations that an SEC job would. The difference in money may not be worth the pressures (and NCAA sanctions) that UT has.

Stevens is from Indiana, went to school in Indiana, and looks to be in a great situation. Unless something bad happens, Stevens can probably stay at Butler as long as he wants on his own terms unless he just starts having losing seasons. Can't put a price-tag on that.

BigVol, all good points as well. But human nature is to challenge yourself to higher levels once you have conquered the one you are on. Maybe Brad is happy where he is and doesn't have the need or desire to take on bigger challenges much like Petersen at Boise. But at some point and time, the question of "can I do it" creeps in and you gotta go for it.

I can only hope he is having some of these thoughts now.

RoadTrip writes:

Griff wrote this in his usual way.

First' Frank is 40, not 50. Second; based on published bios Mooney has never been an assistant at Richmond. Third; do you really think Griff has the inside on all this?

If he does it would be the first time.

MikeTheTiger writes:

OK KNS, here is a bone for you on a story.
...." and served as a student assistant coach under former Vols coach Ray Mears."

Do some checking, but pretty sure this is BS. He was a student manager at UT, but I am almost certain he wasn't a "student assistant" coach. Oh, I forgot, you guys no longer do investigative stories. Maybe just pass it on to Chris Lowe, or Chatt. Times, or Tennessean.

hodocka writes:

in response to Madkels:

Oh...I don't know....maybe:

1) Coach in the SEC against UK, UF, Vandy and non conf foe Memphis. Tell me the teams and the last time you watched the "Horizon League"?
2) Twenty thousand screaming fans
3) National TV exposure during the regular season vs just during the NCAA tourney
4) Fame and Fortune
5) Big time money (if the powers that control it are serious about taking this program to levels even higher than Pearl accomplished) His current salary is not published but is estimated at close to 1 million. He would at least double that at UT.

Beside, Indianapolis owes UT a favor. They got Peyton, so we'll take Brad!

I agree, make it worth his time and Stevens may very come.

flatrock writes:

in response to lomas98:

Who are the good pg's and what are they doing now?

Not in prison, staring at a murder 1 rap, like
Bruce's all-time 5-star thug, Ramar Smith.

Rick Byrd can flat-out coach, honestly. Very
intelligent, straight-forward, and personable.
May not wow folks with his big personality (ask the NCAA about how our 2 most-recent big-personality hires {Pearl and Kiffin} worked
out). Don't think the coaches at Butler, BYU,
Richmond or VCU will win a press conference
duel with Bruce. But they are all established
winners with no NCAA junk attached.
Get over the message board
garble. The only thing that fills seats
is winning. Rick Byrd wins!

smokies_old_soul writes:

in response to MikeTheTiger:

OK KNS, here is a bone for you on a story.
...." and served as a student assistant coach under former Vols coach Ray Mears."

Do some checking, but pretty sure this is BS. He was a student manager at UT, but I am almost certain he wasn't a "student assistant" coach. Oh, I forgot, you guys no longer do investigative stories. Maybe just pass it on to Chris Lowe, or Chatt. Times, or Tennessean.

Not BS. Coach Mears use to come see Coach Byrd's teams at Maryville College, LMU and Belmont because of their relationship.

Tennessee would only be so lucky as to get someone as good as Rick Byrd - you morons think because he runs a clean program and his players don't have tattoos, then he can't coach in the big time. well then why is it that he almost beat Pearl every time they played with about half the talent ?

I'm not so sure Coach Byrd would actually want to leave Belmont to come to this zoo - he's one of those coaches that's maybe not making a million a year, but has everything he wants, including a beautiful new arena.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

in response to Madkels:

BigVol, all good points as well. But human nature is to challenge yourself to higher levels once you have conquered the one you are on. Maybe Brad is happy where he is and doesn't have the need or desire to take on bigger challenges much like Petersen at Boise. But at some point and time, the question of "can I do it" creeps in and you gotta go for it.

I can only hope he is having some of these thoughts now.

Madkels, I truly hope you are right and that Stevens is having some of those "can I do it" thoughts. I'd be surprised if he is since he's going to his second straight Final Four. We'll see, though.

lomas98 writes:

in response to flatrock:

Not in prison, staring at a murder 1 rap, like
Bruce's all-time 5-star thug, Ramar Smith.

Rick Byrd can flat-out coach, honestly. Very
intelligent, straight-forward, and personable.
May not wow folks with his big personality (ask the NCAA about how our 2 most-recent big-personality hires {Pearl and Kiffin} worked
out). Don't think the coaches at Butler, BYU,
Richmond or VCU will win a press conference
duel with Bruce. But they are all established
winners with no NCAA junk attached.
Get over the message board
garble. The only thing that fills seats
is winning. Rick Byrd wins!

If that is your response then apparently you can't answer the original question either. I was responding to a post that claimed Rick Byrd was good at developing pg's, not his overall resume. Can you tell me again why Byrd hasn't been mentioned for any other jobs across the country over the last several years? Are you pare of his middle TN cronies that are trying to send him to Knoxville?

senatorgip#470888 writes:

Below is a reminder of the "hyprocricy" within the NCAA and college athletics. This was headline from Memphis Commercial Appeal on Aug. 21, 2009.

Memphis must vacate its NCAA-record 2007-08 season and serve three years' probation because of NCAA rules violations, the NCAA committee on infractions announced Thursday. Under former coach John Calipari, Memphis won a record 38 games that season and reached the NCAA championship game.

So what was the reward for Calipari ? Head Coach at Kentucky

My friends what we have today with the NCAA and collegite athletics is pure hyprocrisy. All the sports commentators paint Calipari to be a saint and never mention that he left Memphis on probation. When collegite sports becomes so corrupt that the NCAA allows coachs with past "major violations" to coach again, and then pick and choose who they want to investigate; then it is time to take a look at the entire state of affairs with college athletics.

FWBVol writes:

in response to Pullingguard:

Byrd and Frank!!!! If UT has to take either of these then the program evidently has become totally unattractive because of pending action by NCAA. Just have a feeling that UT will not be able to attract anyone with a good resume' becasue of what Pearl left pending the University.

I've stated before that I'm not sure that Byrd would be my top choice, but I don't think he would be a bad choice either.

Byrd might not be the hot young coache with the flashy personna, but I don't see how you or anyone else can say he doesn't have an impressive resume. He's won more than 600 games in his coaching career and has a NAIA national championship as a head coach under his belt as well.

Maybe it's time to give a true Tennessee guy a chance. We haven't had much luck with outsiders.

FWBVol writes:

in response to lakindofguy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You must not have read the story very well. It said one source said we threw out $2 million as an offer to the Xavier guy.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

Not sure I am crazy about Byrd or Frank due to the question of recruiting SEC caliber players.

rockytopatl writes:

in response to GoVols025:

Butler is still in the NCAA Tourney, so of course we are going to hear nothing about Stevens. I doubt if Stevens is even responding to 3rd party inquiries ... he has a team to coach.

The other thing we all need to understand is that anything heard and repeated by any news outlet is pure speculation. Most states have laws against releasing info about a recruiting situation by any public organization. UT is a public organization.

Total BS. Reporters have sources and sources talk. There is no law against people talking to reporters about potential coaching hires.

FWBVol writes:

in response to MikeTheTiger:

OK KNS, here is a bone for you on a story.
...." and served as a student assistant coach under former Vols coach Ray Mears."

Do some checking, but pretty sure this is BS. He was a student manager at UT, but I am almost certain he wasn't a "student assistant" coach. Oh, I forgot, you guys no longer do investigative stories. Maybe just pass it on to Chris Lowe, or Chatt. Times, or Tennessean.

According to Byrd's bio on the Belmont website he was a student assistant at UT and not a student manager. I tried to double check it on the UT website, but it doesn't list former student assistants.

I really don't know one way or the other, but it doesn't seem like a big stretch. Bruce Pearl was a student assistant coach at BC, and Byrd's dad, Ben, who was a sports writer/editor at the old Knoxville Journal covered UT basketball and knew Ray Mears well so Rick Byrd probably was a student assistant.

carbonzip writes:

(Belmont) is led by sophomore guard Ian Clark, an all-conference and all-tournament selection who averages 12.4 points and makes 49 percent of his shots overall, as well as 46.3 percent from 3-point range.

VOLSMAN1999 writes:

in response to lomas98:

If that is your response then apparently you can't answer the original question either. I was responding to a post that claimed Rick Byrd was good at developing pg's, not his overall resume. Can you tell me again why Byrd hasn't been mentioned for any other jobs across the country over the last several years? Are you pare of his middle TN cronies that are trying to send him to Knoxville?

Byrd would be a really good choice. he doesn't seem like the kind that looks for a stepping stone kind of job. He is happy at Belmont and isn't looking to just leave for anywhere.UT is most likely the only other job that he would even consider. Belmont is a small school that gave UT all it wanted 2 times this year along with Vandy. Given the oppurtunity he could be a great hire. he would be a great trifecta with Pat and Dooley.

born2ride writes:

Donnie Jones is interviewing on Tuesday.

Looks like we are not getting a big name coach again.

volpreacher writes:

in response to texasvol73:

wow Chris Mack turned down 2 million a year??!? Then it may be true that the sanctions are going to make it difficult for us to hire a coach. Not good news on that one...

Read the article. It says source wasn't right that he hasn't been contacted.

Cartersvillevol writes:

in response to born2ride:

Donnie Jones is interviewing on Tuesday.

Looks like we are not getting a big name coach again.

Maybe, maybe not. Did you like Bruce? He was not a big name and he did just fine.

GetEmVols writes:

If Lawrence Frank is hired I know me and about 10 others that will be getting season tickets next season. He is one of the best coaches in the game and got a very raw deal at the Nets. They were plagued with injuries.. Best hire out there.. maybe even better than Brad Stevens, because I think Lawrence Frank would possibly stay for a long time because of his ties with the university and the fact he has already done the NBA thing..

carbonzip writes:

The time-share arrangement also worked out beautifully at point guard, as Belmont whipped opponents with its contrasting players. Starter Drew Hanlen protected the ball at a ratio of nearly three assists for every turnover -- among the nation's top rates -- and reserve Kerron Johnson averaged an impressive two steals per game. Between them, they averaged 14.3 ppg, 6.7 assists and 2.8 steals. Both pushed the pace well, with Hanlen setting up teammates and Johnson blowing past defenders with his amazing quickness off the dribble. This combination will return to torture opponents next year.

CarbonCopy (Inactive) writes:

Let's try character versus charisma this time. Rick Byrd would be a great choice to establish credibility to the BBall program.
He is the perfect hire for where we are now

KC_Vol writes:

Byrd would be a good transitional coach. Might not recruit big time talent but would win a lot of games with guys that aren't as athletic as other SEC school players. I think Frank would be a home-run hire and would recruit really well due to his NBA background. Either of those guys would be acceptable for the current situation the Vols are in with the NCAA. We'll probably be hiring a new coach anyway within the next 2-4 seasons.

TNPilgrim writes:

By the time the NCAA tournament is over, Brad Stephens will be able to write his own deal - and you can bet your bottom dollar it won't be with UT. Personally, I'd feel a lot better about this search if a new athletic director was in the picture. It's obvious they're trying to keep Hamilton away from the prospects and letting the search firm do the heavy lifting.

OwensboroVol writes:

Hiring Byrd would be an indicator that Tennessee is not interested in having a nationally relevant program. To be successful at Tennessee you will have to be able to recruit nationally and lets face Rick Byrd is minor league. A top prep player wouldn't even return his calls.

tennrich1 writes:

Lawrence Frank may be the guy!!!

flatrock writes:

in response to OwensboroVol:

Hiring Byrd would be an indicator that Tennessee is not interested in having a nationally relevant program. To be successful at Tennessee you will have to be able to recruit nationally and lets face Rick Byrd is minor league. A top prep player wouldn't even return his calls.

Recruit nationally like Butler, BYU, VCU? If your son is a college prospect and you had a chance to
compare Rick Byrd with Bruce Pearl, you would
want him to play for and model himself after Rick Byrd. No contest.

dvols writes:

in response to TNPilgrim:

By the time the NCAA tournament is over, Brad Stephens will be able to write his own deal - and you can bet your bottom dollar it won't be with UT. Personally, I'd feel a lot better about this search if a new athletic director was in the picture. It's obvious they're trying to keep Hamilton away from the prospects and letting the search firm do the heavy lifting.

dude its butler, quit gettin caught up in the hype.... you really think a pencil neck dot.commer will bring TN to the promise land.....

you love butler cause its....butler?

VolinCalif writes:

in response to Orangeblood13:

From Xavier

Thanks OrangeB. I was starting to think I was the only one that read it that way.

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