Editor's note: Troy Wills was hired by UT in 2003 and not by former men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl.
Former University of Tennessee men’s basketball strength and conditioning coach Troy Wills was arrested this week on burglary and vandalism charges after police say he used a saw to break into a locked office at Thompson-Boling Arena early Saturday morning.
Wills, who spent eight seasons working with the basketball program before being let go last offseason by head coach Cuonzo Martin, was observed on surveillance video by officers investigating the break-in at the campus arena, according to an arrest warrant acquired Tuesday by the News Sentinel.
The warrant said Wills, using a saw, broke into the office of Bill Whitesell, a UT event management director, then “ransacked” the room, causing $750 in damages to university property, and took $4,150 in cash from Whitesell’s desk. The incident was reported to police Saturday afternoon.
Police say video shows Wills walking down a Thompson-Boling Arena hallway “with what appears to be a saw in his hand” and “attempting to hide (the saw) underneath his coat” at 3:53 a.m. Saturday. The affidavit said he was next seen on camera leaving at 4:31 a.m.
UT spokesman Jimmy Stanton said Tuesday that university officials had no comment on the theft.
The break-in occurred several hours after a professional bull-riding event at the arena on Saturday night.
Wills also was arrested on a separate theft charge for allegedly taking a $100 bottle of tanning cream from Fusion Tanning Studio on Kingston Pike on Dec. 5. According to the affidavit, Wills was contacted about the incident and agreed to return and pay for the product, but he never did so.
Wills will be due in court for arraignment March 6 after making bond on all three charges.
The two charges stemming from the Thompson-Boling break-in are felonies.
The burglary charge is a Class D felony carrying a $7,500 bond. The vandalism charge is a Class E felony carrying a $5,000 bond. As a condition of his release, Wills was barred from UT property.
The theft charge is a Class A misdemeanor. Wills was told to stay away from the tanning salon and ordered not to make contact with the complainant.
Wills was replaced as UT’s basketball strength and conditioning coach by Nicodemus Christopher in May. Wills, who joined UT in 2003, spent one season on Martin’s staff. At the time, Wills was earning a salary of $52,010.
According to his UT biography from last season, Wills graduated from Emory & Henry College in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, with a discipline in math. He earned his master’s degree from East Tennessee State University in 2003.
He was hired by UT in January 2003 and joined Johnny Long’s strength and conditioning staff. He was promoted the following year to assistant strength and conditioning coach and started working for then-men’s basketball coach Buzz Peterson in the 2004-05 season.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.