It's been a busy week for Mike Hamilton, and the University of Tennessee athletic director was still very busy on Monday when he stopped into Thompson-Boling Arena to ensure the Ray Mears Room was getting set up properly for the press conference introducing Cuonzo Martin as the Vols' new men's basketball coach.
Hamilton took a couple of minutes to talk with the News Sentinel to share a brief overview of Martin's hiring.
“It's a situation where when we met (Martin), we just knew he was the guy,'' Hamilton said, making his first public comments since a March 16 interview aired on Knoxville radio station WNML. “We talked to a lot of people out there, and it just kept coming back to him, and coming back to him.''
Hamilton, who took an active role in the search along with senior associate athletic director Chris Fuller and associate athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois, said he was particularly impressed with Martin's ability to build a program over the past three seasons at Missouri State.
The Bears were 26-9 this season and won the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship for the first time in school history.
“When he got there, he had five scholarship guys, and he goes on to win the league in his third season,'' Hamilton said. “You look at that conference, and it's pretty tough.''
Hamilton said he's aware many UT fans have championed the names of other up-and-coming coaches for the opening that came about when Bruce Pearl was fired last Monday.
“Yes, a lot of people talk about some of the other hot coaches,'' Hamilton said, “but Cuonzo wins his league this season and had the No. 43 RPI, so who's to say if his team gets in the (NCAA) tournament they don't make the same kind of run?
“We feel very good about the hire.''