On Tuesday, the Missouri Tigers fired men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin after five seasons. The decision drew criticism from rivals and local media figures alike who found it puzzling given that Mizzou is in first place with a 26-5 team record this season following last year’s appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Missouri has fired men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin after five seasons. The Tigers drew criticism from rival coaches and fans, who felt the team was not improved under his tenure.
Cuonzo Martin, the men’s basketball coach at Missouri, was sacked after five seasons, according to the school, in a decision that attracted condemnation from numerous of his peers in collegiate basketball.
After three seasons at California, Martin was hired by Missouri to replace Kim Anderson, and he took over the Tigers in 2017. The Tigers made the NCAA tournament in Martin’s first season and again in 2021, but both times they were unable to go beyond the first round.
Missouri finished the season with a 12-21 overall record and a 5-13 SEC record. The Tigers finished their season with a 76-68 defeat to LSU in the SEC tournament on Thursday. Missouri finished the season by losing seven of their final nine games.
Martin has a five-year record of 78-77.
“Coach Martin served the institution with exceptional grace and dignity,” said Missouri athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois, who was appointed in August. “His efforts to our program, both on and off the court, are much appreciated. He is a teacher as well as a coach, and he has had an influence on the lives of every student-athlete who has participated in the program over the previous five years.”
Missouri supporters, who have yearned for a successful program for years, may be pleased with the dismissal. But it was panned by the basketball world, and not only because of what happened on the floor.
“I have two adopted Black grandsons, and I phoned him one day and asked for his assistance. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said Friday night, “Tell me what I need to know as a grandpa.” “Cuonzo’s wife spoke with my daughter about certain difficulties she needed resolved, and as a result, I see him in a whole new light.”
Coach Bill Self of Kansas bemoaned yet another coaching change involving one of the Jayhawks’ main opponents. Coach Bruce Weber of Kansas State resigned on Thursday, but he would have been dismissed if he hadn’t.
“I understand that schools and corporations must make difficult choices that are sometimes controversial, or they must do it because it is popular,” Self said, “but that’s two coaches at our greatest competitors in the past two days.”
“I’m sorry about Cuonzo. He’s a fantastic instructor, in my opinion. I believe he is a better person, and I am certain that he will recover.”
Martin was appointed after Anderson’s three-year reign ended in failure, promising an innovative style of play and high-level recruits. However, several of those prospects, like as Michael Porter Jr., were plagued by injuries, and the puzzle pieces never appeared to fall into place in Columbia.
“Coaching for the last game?” “I’m ready to leave,” he remarked late Thursday. “I’m OK with whatever happens.” That isn’t something that consumes me. That is not anything I am concerned about. If it is in the best interests of both parties, then it is in the best interests of both parties. But I’m not going to spend any time on it. Whatever occurs, occurs.
“I’m going to let the chips fall where they may,” Martin said, “but I have amazing peace of mind, and I’m going back to the hotel to rest with my family and then we’ll see what happens.”
Many of Martin’s rival coaches, like South Carolina’s Frank Martin, backed him up.
“If my memory serves me well, they got to the NCAA tournament last year,” he stated Thursday. “I’m not sure what this profession has come to when players like him are questioned about what they can and can’t accomplish, and are assessed this year in this league after having such a good year last year. If someone who had their team ranked in the top 20 in the nation for almost the entire season last year and went to the NCAA tournament, we’d have significant problems in this industry (gets fired).
“When was the last time you read anything unfavorable about Cuonzo Martin’s teams?” Frank Martin went on. “When was the last time you read a bad connotation about Cuonzo Martin in a player? You aren’t. People start talking like that after he just finished an NCAA tournament? That is a pity. If that’s how we do business, it’s not right.”
Martin guided the football and basketball teams during a period of major social upheaval on campus, including demonstrations during the Black Lives Matter movement, which became synonymous with the football and basketball programs.
“Cuonzo is a class act, one of the finest in our industry. “Whether it’s on the court or off, he’s about social justice, making sure he has a strong voice, not just as a collegiate basketball coach, but as a Black man in America,” said Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse. “When we’re dealing with a lot of problems with George Floyd and everything that’s transpired over the last couple of years, he comes to the fore. He’s always been one of those individuals that takes the initiative.”
Martin served three seasons at California, three seasons at Tennessee, and three seasons at Missouri State before taking over at Missouri. In 2014, he was a member of the Tennessee Volunteers’ Sweet 16 team, and in 2016, he was a member of the California Golden Bears’ NCAA tournament team. Martin also worked as an assistant coach at Purdue for eight years.
Since 2011, the Tigers have been looking for a new men’s basketball coach for the fourth time. Frank Haith and Anderson only stayed in Columbia for three seasons apiece, whereas Martin stayed for five. Murray State’s Matt McMahon, Baylor assistant Jerome Tang, North Texas’ Grant McCasland, and San Francisco’s Todd Golden are all likely to be engaged, according to ESPN sources.
Fogler Consulting was recruited by the institution to assist with the search.
This article was written with the help of the Associated Press.