Two years into a five-year contract at Tennessee, men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin will receive a $50,000 raise heading into the 2013-14 season.
UT athletic director Dave Hart told the News Sentinel on Thursday that he thinks the pay bump is “fair and necessary.”
Martin entered the summer with three years remaining on a contract worth $1.3 million annually.
“(The pay increase) is due to two things,” Hart said. “The first is that Cuonzo led our program to top-five finishes in the SEC in his first two years, which is impressive.”
Hart added that he was impressed because Martin battled “a big rebuilding job” in his first season at UT and “key players being injured” in his second campaign.
“The other thing is that, personally, I appreciate the leadership that he has provided at the University of Tennessee and in guiding those young men,” Hart said.
According to Martin, Hart approached him in early June to discuss a raise.
“It was something they presented and I really appreciated it,” said Martin, who was on the recruiting trial Thursday, traveling to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. “I’m happy about it and it was a kind gesture by Dave. He said it was something that he wanted to do.”
The extra $50,000 will be split evenly among his base salary, which rises to $350,000, and his broadcasting payout, now $450,000. The remainder of Martin’s salary stems from apparel ($325,000) and endorsements ($225,000).
Martin’s two seasons in Knoxville have produced a 39-28 overall record, a 21-13 SEC mark and two NIT appearances. Including three seasons at Missouri State, he has a 100-69 overall record.
After finishing 27-9 overall and 12-6 in the SEC last season, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy saw his salary rise from $1.4 million to $1.8 million this offseason. He had been nearly on par with Martin in the SEC’s coaching pay scale.
At $1.35 million annually, Martin ranks 11th among the SEC’s 14 coaches. He earns more than LSU’s Johnny Jones ($1.1 million through 2016-17), Mississippi State’s Rick Ray ($1 million through 2015-16) and Texas A&M’s Billy Kennedy ($1 million through 2015-16). Martin ranks just behind Auburn’s Tony Barbee ($1.5 million through 2016-17).
Asked if any contract adjustment — be it a significant extension or a minor pay increase such as this — can improve a coach’s perception both generally and in recruiting, Martin dismissed the notion.
“Dave just reached out and I said, ‘Thank you, I appreciate it’, and I don’t read too much more into that because it doesn’t change anything,” Martin said. “Regardless of what I’m making and that sort of thing, I’m always going to do my job to the best of my ability. It was a great gesture, but I don’t get caught up in perception or anything on the outside. I’m here to do a job.”
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn