David Climer: For Tennessee Vols, buying out Cuonzo Martin should be about more than just dollars

Vols must decide if $1.56M too much to help men's program before it's too late

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin, second from right, watches his team play South Carolina during the first half at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Lau

Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin, second from right, watches his team play South Carolina during the first half at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (ADAM LAU/NEWS SENTINEL)

In case you were wondering, the buyout is $1.56 million.

That’s what it would cost the University of Tennessee if it decides to part ways with basketball coach Cuonzo Martin after the season.

That’s a lot of money to pay somebody not to work. But it’s nothing new for UT. The Vols rank among the national leaders in buyouts.

UT is still on the hook for the bulk of Derek Dooley’s $5 million buyout, which is being paid in installments through December 2016. And don’t forget former athletics director Mike Hamilton. UT still owes four more monthly payments of $37,083.33 to fulfill his $1.335 million in parting gifts.

Continue reading at The Tennessean.

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Comments » 19

OrangePride writes:

Here's something interesting. This article was posted as of very early this am. Three hours later, I am the first poster. Between the lack of subscribers and the current lack of interest in this bb program, if one listens hard enough he can actually hear crickets chirping in the background. On point, I doubt that Hart is going to buy out this contract. In fact, I'm not certain how much good it would do. Between the players who will leave, the current bench status, and the somewhat underwhelming signing class, it wouldn't much matter who was here next year; it's likely to be a bigtime down situation. Depending on who Hart could attract to the position, the only thing we might accomplish would be to start the road back to recovery a year sooner. From where I sit, the bb program is in worse shape this year than the football program was the year Dooley was replaced......and that's saying something. We will just see how the year plays out, but my guess is we will get to 20 wins, be replaced by Nebraska in the NCAA's and not get past the second round of the NIT.....IF we even get that far. Buyout? Not thinking so.

FWBVol writes:

An interesting point Climer made in the column is that tickets sales have gone down every year since 2009. This is just Martin's third year as the head coach so the downward trend started under Bruce Pearl.

I'm not saying that UT should keep Martin as head coach. I'm not saying he should be fired either. What I am saying is throwing the decline in season tickets in there as a reason for Martin's firing shouldn't be a factor since they were on the decline under Pearl and it probably has something to do with the economy.

I do know UT has to play better. Stokes was a non factor again in the second half against A&M. Martin needs to get things turned around quickly. The thing is he seems like a class act and his teams haven't done anything to disgrace our the university off the court.

johndavid writes:

1.5 MILLION is nothing. How many hundreds of millions of dollars is the athletic Dept budget? We can make $ by firing him just in ticket sales alone in a year or 2 not to mention other revenue ( donations etc) If we have paid 15 million in buyouts over the last decade then this 1.5 would be the best deal of them all. I'm convinced Martin has less chance to be successful than Dooley or Fulmer . What are the chances that Martin can go to the tournament next year? about 1 in 1.5 million sounds about right!

TommyJack writes:

climer is right for a change.

OrangePride writes:

in response to FWBVol:

An interesting point Climer made in the column is that tickets sales have gone down every year since 2009. This is just Martin's third year as the head coach so the downward trend started under Bruce Pearl.

I'm not saying that UT should keep Martin as head coach. I'm not saying he should be fired either. What I am saying is throwing the decline in season tickets in there as a reason for Martin's firing shouldn't be a factor since they were on the decline under Pearl and it probably has something to do with the economy.

I do know UT has to play better. Stokes was a non factor again in the second half against A&M. Martin needs to get things turned around quickly. The thing is he seems like a class act and his teams haven't done anything to disgrace our the university off the court.

Let's be fair. Pearl was the coach who brought passion back to Tennessee basketball and filled that arena on a regular basis. His last year, however, was littered with the NCAA scandal, his suspension for 10 games, and a lot of very bad publicity. Ticket sales almost had to suffer. But OK, the "trend began" in Pearl's last year. Nonetheless, you have to admit, the team passion, fan enthusiasm, and game attendance is at a low water mark if you use Pearl's arrival as a baseline. Should Martin lose his job on this basis alone? There is a lot of debate on that question, and certainly there are lots of factors that will play into the final decision. My guess is he will NOT be bought out and thus be here for 2015. Whatever. I am beyond worrying about stuff I have no control over. Sadly, it just is what it is.

underthehill writes:

in response to OrangePride:

Here's something interesting. This article was posted as of very early this am. Three hours later, I am the first poster. Between the lack of subscribers and the current lack of interest in this bb program, if one listens hard enough he can actually hear crickets chirping in the background. On point, I doubt that Hart is going to buy out this contract. In fact, I'm not certain how much good it would do. Between the players who will leave, the current bench status, and the somewhat underwhelming signing class, it wouldn't much matter who was here next year; it's likely to be a bigtime down situation. Depending on who Hart could attract to the position, the only thing we might accomplish would be to start the road back to recovery a year sooner. From where I sit, the bb program is in worse shape this year than the football program was the year Dooley was replaced......and that's saying something. We will just see how the year plays out, but my guess is we will get to 20 wins, be replaced by Nebraska in the NCAA's and not get past the second round of the NIT.....IF we even get that far. Buyout? Not thinking so.

I don't know if it is a lack of interest or a just wait and see situation at this point..it seems that majority opinion is if UT makes the NCAA tourn..Martin will get another year..if they don't ..UT will then decide..buyout or another year..I think the point you make about the roster next year would be a huge factor in hiring a new coach..I stated before and I will continue to believe..Kermit Davis of Middle Tenn State U would be the best possible coach UT could get..if he is interested.. I watched him out coach Martin in the NIT game at UT and beat the Vols with a Jr college recruit point guard who made Trae Golden look like a high schooler..Davis is a lot like Stallings at Vandy..his players exceed their talent ..

underthehill writes:

in response to OrangePride:

Let's be fair. Pearl was the coach who brought passion back to Tennessee basketball and filled that arena on a regular basis. His last year, however, was littered with the NCAA scandal, his suspension for 10 games, and a lot of very bad publicity. Ticket sales almost had to suffer. But OK, the "trend began" in Pearl's last year. Nonetheless, you have to admit, the team passion, fan enthusiasm, and game attendance is at a low water mark if you use Pearl's arrival as a baseline. Should Martin lose his job on this basis alone? There is a lot of debate on that question, and certainly there are lots of factors that will play into the final decision. My guess is he will NOT be bought out and thus be here for 2015. Whatever. I am beyond worrying about stuff I have no control over. Sadly, it just is what it is.

Let's be fair..ok..when other coaches who have done far worse had nothing done to them..does it not appear someone was out to get Pearl for something they couldn't get him for earlier at another school..is that fair..I am not a fan of bringing Pearl back but I dread the thought of him going to bama or auburn ..if that happened..it would be hard for UT to compete with them..Pearl is going to be offered several good jobs..I hope he goes somewhere out West or away from the SEC...

TommyJack writes:

in response to underthehill:

Let's be fair..ok..when other coaches who have done far worse had nothing done to them..does it not appear someone was out to get Pearl for something they couldn't get him for earlier at another school..is that fair..I am not a fan of bringing Pearl back but I dread the thought of him going to bama or auburn ..if that happened..it would be hard for UT to compete with them..Pearl is going to be offered several good jobs..I hope he goes somewhere out West or away from the SEC...

Here's the thing. Pearl made a mistake. But if you grade it on the curve, with respect to other punishments doled out by the CORRUPT ncaa (and the satanic Mike Slive), he was way over-penalized. I doubt the feckless Jimmy Cheek will bring him back. But he should.

jakethevolguy writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Here's the thing. Pearl made a mistake. But if you grade it on the curve, with respect to other punishments doled out by the CORRUPT ncaa (and the satanic Mike Slive), he was way over-penalized. I doubt the feckless Jimmy Cheek will bring him back. But he should.

I agree 100% TJ. And, if "Goldfinger" could get his finger out of his nose long enough to think clear headed bringing Pearl back would be the obvious thing to do.

FWBVol writes:

in response to OrangePride:

Let's be fair. Pearl was the coach who brought passion back to Tennessee basketball and filled that arena on a regular basis. His last year, however, was littered with the NCAA scandal, his suspension for 10 games, and a lot of very bad publicity. Ticket sales almost had to suffer. But OK, the "trend began" in Pearl's last year. Nonetheless, you have to admit, the team passion, fan enthusiasm, and game attendance is at a low water mark if you use Pearl's arrival as a baseline. Should Martin lose his job on this basis alone? There is a lot of debate on that question, and certainly there are lots of factors that will play into the final decision. My guess is he will NOT be bought out and thus be here for 2015. Whatever. I am beyond worrying about stuff I have no control over. Sadly, it just is what it is.

Actually Pearl's last year was the 2010-2011 season so the decline started a year, possibly two, before his meltdown and the scandals showed up. You mentioned the last 10 games, but Climer was talking about season ticket sales.

I'm not saying Martin should be retained or fired. I see strong arguments for both points. My context is that Climer using the season tickets was not logically thought out based on when he said sells started going down and when Martin was actually hired.

Snapshot writes:

Time for a change, I'm tired of watching boring basketball. I'm going to be sure to buy a Mega-Millions and a Powerball ticket this week so maybe I can send them the 1.5 mil. for the buy-out. Maybe that would help make the decision easier!

OrangePride writes:

in response to FWBVol:

Actually Pearl's last year was the 2010-2011 season so the decline started a year, possibly two, before his meltdown and the scandals showed up. You mentioned the last 10 games, but Climer was talking about season ticket sales.

I'm not saying Martin should be retained or fired. I see strong arguments for both points. My context is that Climer using the season tickets was not logically thought out based on when he said sells started going down and when Martin was actually hired.

My point is that attendance was not in free fall decline under Pearl. In 2010 Tennessee defeats Ohio State in Sweet Sixteen and is 2 seconds short of beating Michigan State to reach its first Final Four. Attendance that year was outstanding .... One of the highest in the country. Using season seats, as you correctly note, is misleading. It's game overall attendance that is the true and final measure of fan support. Under Martin that number has steadily fallen and we are near reaching pre-Pearl levels. It's likely to go lower! Now, I am near certain this administration will not bring back Pearl even if it does release Martin. I am with those who hope Pearl's next job is in the PAC 12 and not the SEC because, with all his faults, he's a heck of a basketball coach. I don't want to see him on the opposing bench making us suffer further.

OrangePride writes:

in response to underthehill:

Let's be fair..ok..when other coaches who have done far worse had nothing done to them..does it not appear someone was out to get Pearl for something they couldn't get him for earlier at another school..is that fair..I am not a fan of bringing Pearl back but I dread the thought of him going to bama or auburn ..if that happened..it would be hard for UT to compete with them..Pearl is going to be offered several good jobs..I hope he goes somewhere out West or away from the SEC...

No one is saying what was done to Pearl and the University of Tennessee was either fair OR measured. The NCAA is a bad joke on enforcement and is scandalous in its selective enforcement. Was it payback for earlier behavior, I don't know, but it was certainly over the top in its harshness.

UTANDNOBAMA writes:

in response to underthehill:

I don't know if it is a lack of interest or a just wait and see situation at this point..it seems that majority opinion is if UT makes the NCAA tourn..Martin will get another year..if they don't ..UT will then decide..buyout or another year..I think the point you make about the roster next year would be a huge factor in hiring a new coach..I stated before and I will continue to believe..Kermit Davis of Middle Tenn State U would be the best possible coach UT could get..if he is interested.. I watched him out coach Martin in the NIT game at UT and beat the Vols with a Jr college recruit point guard who made Trae Golden look like a high schooler..Davis is a lot like Stallings at Vandy..his players exceed their talent ..

An MTSU coach would be best we could get? really? We can do better than that. This program is down... But not laughable. We Are in a great conference... We have a huge arena... We have a ton of resources compared to most of the schools out there. If a guy can coach... He can coach here...and can win here. Pearl wasn't an anomaly... He was a good coach doing his job... I'll guarantee he is not the only guy who could be successful here...but you have to get a proven winner... Not a proven NIT guy... Not a guy that is hired simply because he is the opposite of Bruce Pearl.

fannotsheep writes:

Pearl's most exciting teams were his first ones. But the success continued even if the basketball was somewhat less exciting after Lofton and JuJuan Smith gave way to feeding Tyler Smith every possession and grinding out wins with half-court offense. But the wins they were grinding out came against Kansas, Florida, Kentucky and Memphis. Do you honestly see the Vols beating any of those teams now?

Declining attendance is hitting all sports, even SEC football and winning NFL franchises, Blame the economy, big screen HD TV sets, bad weather or homely cheerleaders. (Just kidding)

If UT hires another no name mid major guy to rebuild, loses its mediocre incoming class and starts from scratch again, Hart gains nothing -- at least near term. And he better get it right this time. IF he somehow brings back Pearl, butts will be back in seats in a much bigger way than any other option available. He can't get a big name coach so please don't even start the stupid stuff.

Hammy hired Martin for obvious PC NCAA appeasement reasons and for losing a close game to Pearl's worst and most distracted team. Turns out Martin has a real talent for losing close games. Home games. Road games. Not so close games. Etc.

But if you can't go big, and won't hire Pearl, might as well keep the guy and save the buyout. It's curtains anyway. Literally.

oldster writes:

in response to johndavid:

1.5 MILLION is nothing. How many hundreds of millions of dollars is the athletic Dept budget? We can make $ by firing him just in ticket sales alone in a year or 2 not to mention other revenue ( donations etc) If we have paid 15 million in buyouts over the last decade then this 1.5 would be the best deal of them all. I'm convinced Martin has less chance to be successful than Dooley or Fulmer . What are the chances that Martin can go to the tournament next year? about 1 in 1.5 million sounds about right!

If you think $1.5 million is nothing, you pay it. Even if the Athletic Department was swimming in money, that amount plus what they owe Dooley, what they owe Hamilton, what they just got through paying Fulmer, what they would have to cough up to get a new coach, would soon have it dog paddling in IOUs. UT and the US government are in the same boat. They need to cut expenses. Since next year is going to stink in basketball no matter who the coach is, stick with Martin and at least get something for the bucks.

johndavid writes:

in response to oldster:

If you think $1.5 million is nothing, you pay it. Even if the Athletic Department was swimming in money, that amount plus what they owe Dooley, what they owe Hamilton, what they just got through paying Fulmer, what they would have to cough up to get a new coach, would soon have it dog paddling in IOUs. UT and the US government are in the same boat. They need to cut expenses. Since next year is going to stink in basketball no matter who the coach is, stick with Martin and at least get something for the bucks.

You would be a terrible business owner. Keep the same product on the shelf that is not selling because you have already bought it and not bring in the new hot product that could make you $.( while all your fixed cost remain the same) Mens basketball is 1 of only 2 sports that you can make $ in and you don't want to invest in it? If you hire Pearl ticket sales alone will almost get your 1.5 mil back in a year or 2. Concessions , donations, T shirts etc. I have never seen a fan wearing a Conzo T shirt. I belive there are more than one donor willing to pay the 1.5 million. There are so many flaws in your comment it would take 3 pages to point them all out. There would almost always be a buy out in any coach's contract no matter how long you wait.

THE ATHLETIC DEPT IS A BOOST FOR THE UNIVERSITY'S BUDGET ( at least the mens old dept) . THE TAX PAYERS ARE NOT PAYING PEARL OR MARTIN'S BUYOUT. The taxes are used for subsidizing tuition so all the professors etc can roll n the dough.

So keep Conzo turn down the heat, no recruiting budget, no marketing, no Conzo Martin show ( we pay him for that) dont replace any lights on the score board that will also lessen the embarrassment I could go on..... It sounds ridiculous but it is your argument.

johndavid writes:

in response to oldster:

If you think $1.5 million is nothing, you pay it. Even if the Athletic Department was swimming in money, that amount plus what they owe Dooley, what they owe Hamilton, what they just got through paying Fulmer, what they would have to cough up to get a new coach, would soon have it dog paddling in IOUs. UT and the US government are in the same boat. They need to cut expenses. Since next year is going to stink in basketball no matter who the coach is, stick with Martin and at least get something for the bucks.

1.5 MIL for ath dept would be the equivalent of about $ 200 for me. ( 100-400 for most people) I think I would pay $ 200 to fix one of the most important things in my life. That would be just cutting out Bojangles Mt. Dew each day for 3 months. I believe the ATH. Dept could find something similiar if it is important!

stalker5572#1438665 writes:

in response to johndavid:

1.5 MILLION is nothing. How many hundreds of millions of dollars is the athletic Dept budget? We can make $ by firing him just in ticket sales alone in a year or 2 not to mention other revenue ( donations etc) If we have paid 15 million in buyouts over the last decade then this 1.5 would be the best deal of them all. I'm convinced Martin has less chance to be successful than Dooley or Fulmer . What are the chances that Martin can go to the tournament next year? about 1 in 1.5 million sounds about right!

Fulmer won several SEC titles and a NC and about 80% winning percentage

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