After Bruce Pearl admitted to NCAA violations, was punished by his employer and the SEC, and ultimately fired this past March, it stands to reason that new hire Cuonzo Martin would be held to some kind of formalized standard as a term of his contract.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding released by the Knoxville News Sentinel, the school's concern about possible upcoming NCAA sanctions cuts both ways. The document, which sets forth key stipulations in writing that will eventually be worked into the finalized contract, includes specific language detailing criteria that would render the deal invalid. Basically, if Martin somehow starts channeling his inner Pearl a couple of years from now, he can be fired summarily, just so everyone understands OK?
Perhaps more interesting, the administration cedes some security to Martin in the following passage:
If, as a result of currently pending NCAA proceedings, the men's basketball program (a) receives NCAA restrictions on recruiting in addition to those already self-imposed by the University; (b) banned from postseason play; or (c) incurs a reduction of one or more scholarships, then the initial term of employment will be extended year-for-year based upon the number of years the University (a) receives NCAA restrictions on recruiting in addition to those already self-imposed by the University; (b) banned from postseason play; or (c) incurs a reduction of one or more scholarships. In the event that any additional year(s) are added, the terms applicable to those additional year(s) will be the same as in year five.
In other (hopefully not too reductive) words, if UT takes a hit as a result of Bruce Pearl's mess, Martin gets an automatic contract extension, tacking on years commensurate with the number of years Martin must labor under sanctions imposed from Pearl's misdeeds. If the NCAA slaps a year's worth of sanctions on UT, Martin gets an extra "clean" year tacked on the end of his contract. Seems like a pretty decent way to handle the situation.
It's especially decent when you consider that Martin just went from making a reported $300,000 a year at Missouri State to $1.3 million at Tennessee. He'll be paid $25k as a moving allowance (not sure how many Mayflower vans that hires, but it sounds like a lot), and given the use of two (presumably swanky) loaner automobiles.
There are, of course, incentives. The lowest bars are set at $25,000, an amount Martin can earn for an NIT trip, but also for ensuring that his Vols earn a cumulative 2.75 GPA in any given academic year. An SEC regular-season championship is worth $100,000, and a National Championship nets the highest bonus at $200,000.
On the other hand, if Martin terminates the contract, presumably by taking another job, he owes the University a buyout of double his salary. If the University fires him with cause, he gets nada. If he's fired without cause, Tennessee must pay him 60 percent of his remaining compensation.
The hope for both parties is, we assume, to hand out the bonuses instead of having to hew to the more restrictive aspects of the memorandum. The final line of the letter outlines exactly what AD Mike Hamilton expects from Martin. "I have every confidence that you will lead our basketball program with integrity and pride," it reads.
Stopping the bleeding is job one. After that, the pressure to win will kick in at full force.
Read the full memorandum (pdf)
Photo: US Presswire