The intertwining paths of Buzz Peterson and Houston Fancher have merged once again.
Fancher, following four seasons in the Tennessee men’s basketball program, will join Peterson’s staff at North Carolina-Wilmington as an assistant coach, the school announced Tuesday.
Fancher worked as an assistant for Peterson at Appalachian State from 1996-2000. The Newport native then took over the program and spent nine years as coach when Peterson was hired by Tulsa.
“It was going to take a unique opportunity to get me out of Knoxville,” Fancher told the News Sentinel on Tuesday. “I would classify this as a unique situation, going to work for a guy I’ve worked for and with. What’s more unique than that? It’s come full circle.”
Fancher came to UT as coordinator of video scouting under then-coach Bruce Pearl. He was retained when Cuonzo Martin took over as coach in 2011-12 and was promoted to director of basketball operations upon Martin’s arrival.
Fancher served as interim head coach of the Vols during the short transition period in March 2011 when Pearl was fired and Martin was hired.
Fancher, 47, was making $87,822 annually at UT.
Peterson, who coached UT for four years after one season at Tulsa, is entering his fourth season at North Carolina-Wilmington. Last week, he hired former UNC Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach as an assistant, who also shares ties with Fancher.
“There are mixed emotions. Tennessee is home, it’s a special place and my family’s time here has been magnificent,” Fancher said. “The atmosphere around this program has been a blast, but at the same time, I want to coach. This affords me that opportunity to get back out on the floor. I’m ready to get that whistle back around my neck and get busy.”
Before taking an administrative role with the Vols, Fancher spent 20 years as a college coach, including 12 as a head coach.
After replacing Peterson at ASU, Fancher posted a 137-136 record and won three Southern Conference North Division championships.
“When I got the job at Appalachian State, he was the first person I hired,” Peterson said in a UNC-Wilmington school release. “He’s a real fireball with great recruiting ties and a high energy level.”
Under Martin, Fancher was primarily responsible for scheduling, monitoring traveling arrangements and overseeing the program’s budget, equipment purchasing and NCAA compliance.
The in-house candidates to replace Fancher include director of video scouting Mark Pancratz, who has been with the program since 2006-07, and Marco Harris, the student-athlete welfare coordinator.
Martin’s director of basketball operations during his time as coach of Missouri State was Trevyor Fisher, who currently is the coach of Republic (Mo.) High School.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.