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