TAMPA, Fla. — In the end, one bad season proved too much for Mizzou basketball to endure another Cuonzo Martin year. Martin will not return next season as head coach of Missouri’s men’s basketball program, the Post-Dispatch first reported Friday afternoon, shortly after Martin’s traveling contingent returned. and MU in Colombia from Tampa, Fla., where the Tigers’ season ended Thursday. defeat in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament. Mizzou officially announced the decision on Friday evening.
Martin, 50, comes away with a five-year record of 78-77, 35-53 in SEC regular season games and 3-4 in the SEC Tournament. He was 0-2 in NCAA Tournament games, losing in the first round in 2018 and 2021. After a 20-13 first season, Martin’s second and third teams finished just under .500 (15-17, 15 -16) before last year. turnaround season, when the Tigers started 13-3 and peaked at No. 10 in national polls. But they crumbled over time, losing seven of their last 10 games, resulting in a drastic roster rebuild that never took shape as expected. The Tigers finished 12-21 that season, only the sixth 20-game losing season in team history.
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Search consultant Eddie Fogler, a former South Carolina and Vanderbilt head coach, will assist Mizzou in the national search for Martin’s replacement. MU athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois previously used former coaching firm Fogler Consulting when she hired TJ Otzelberger as a basketball coach at UNLV.
Reed-Francois, who helped hire Martin as head coach at Tennessee in 2011 and whose son Jackson Francois planned to walk to the basketball team under Martin next season, was unavailable for comment on Friday. .
“Coach Martin represented the University with an extremely high standard of class and dignity,” she said in a statement. “He is a man of character whom I have the greatest respect for, and we are grateful for his contributions to our program on and off the pitch. He is not only a coach, but also a teacher, and he has impacted the lives of every student-athlete who has participated in the program over the past five years. We wish him, Roberta, and their family all the best for the future.”
“I think Mizzou is one of the best men’s basketball coaches in the country,” she added. “Our university is the flagship institution of our great state and a member of the Southeastern Conference, the premier league in college athletics. We are located in a recruitment hotbed and there is incredible alignment between our department and our President and Board of Directors. We have — and will continue — to invest in our men’s basketball program and I look forward to introducing our new program leader to our community in the near future. We will work quickly and diligently to find the best-suited candidate to continue to grow our championship culture. »
Martin, born in St. Louis and raised in East St. Louis, has two years left on his original seven-year contract. By participating in the NCAA Tournament twice in his first four seasons, Martin triggered two clauses in his contract that increased his buyout to $6 million this year. The total buyout would have dropped to $3 million if MU had fired Martin after April 30, 2023. MU plans to fully honor the terms of Martin’s contract, which states that damages may be paid in equal monthly installments until April 30, 2024, or in a lump sum “as may be negotiated and agreed to by the parties. “.
Potential candidates Mizzou could explore include Grant McCasland of North Texas, Darian DeVries of Drake, Matt McMahon of Murray State, Dennis Gates of Cleveland State, Baylor assistant Jerome Tang and former Mizzou player Kim English. , who went 14-16 in his first year as George Mason’s head coach. Sources close to the program also mentioned Dana Altman of Oregon and Travis Ford of St. Louis University as coaches potentially interested in the job.
It was Martin’s third losing season in five years at United, but the Tigers were much closer to even in the other two. This season, crowds at Mizzou Arena have become sparser than usual, with United ranking 12th among SEC teams, averaging 6,600 fans per home game. In November, Martin signed his highest-rated recruit since his first weeks on the job five years ago, four-star forward Aidan Shawn, but that wasn’t enough to inspire hopes he could revive the program. in a close future.
Instead, the Tigers will launch a fifth head coaching search in the past 16 years, a spin-off that underscores the program’s failures to maintain any trace of success over the past two decades.
This time, however, it’s Reed-Francois’ coaching search, though the freshman athletic director is sure to have strong input from powerful university system president Mun Choi, influential boosters, and past and current members. of the board of UM system curators, many of whom can’t help but do their part when it comes to matters important to the athletics department.
Another challenge for MU: This will be Mizzou’s first big signing in athletics since the NCAA cleared immediate transfer eligibility, along with the name, image and likeness move. That means current players and signed rookies could be the first to poach. United’s top two returning players, Kobe Brown and Trevon Brazile, have already been contacted by representatives from other schools, a source confirmed on Friday, along with Aidan Shaw, who signed with United last fall.
Martin’s fifth season ended early with a home loss to Kansas City – an ominous callback to former coach Kim Anderson’s first home game, another demoralizing loss to the Roos – and then barely competitive efforts on the road against Liberty and Florida State. Before the schedule shifted to 2022, the Tigers’ lack of depth, talent and continuity were all exposed in blistering losses to Kansas, Illinois and Kentucky.
When asked after Thursday’s loss to Louisiana State if this could indeed be his last game with the Tigers, Martin responded with the same thoughtful tone he’s used in recent weeks.
“I’m ready to go. I am at peace with anything,” he said. “I’m not consumed with it. I don’t worry about that. If it’s the best thing for both parties, then it’s the best thing for both parties. But I won’t waste time on that. What must happen will happen. … Because if it’s (my last game) then the plan worked. Because when I was put here, it worked. I was there to make it work. I say this in all humility. Then you let the chips fall where they can. But I have immense peace of mind. I return to the hotel to relax with the family and then leave from there.”