KNOXVILLE — Tennessee’s search for a new basketball coach reportedly is focused on one candidate.
According to a CBS Sports report late Saturday night and another report by ESPN on Sunday, the Volunteers are targeting Louisiana Tech’s Michael White to replace Cuonzo Martin, who left Tennessee to take the job at California last week following a third season that included an NCAA tournament berth and a Sweet 16 run.
It’s unclear as of late Sunday night if Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart has offered the job to White or any other potential replacements, but the search could be trending that way with White, who is 74-31 in three seasons with the Bulldogs.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, White is “mulling over the decision whether to take the job,” and the report, which cites anonymous sources, added “it’s not a given that he will head to Knoxville.”
The 37-year-old White is a Florida native who played point guard at Ole Miss and spent seven years (2004-11) as an assistant coach with the Rebels after a stint at Jacksonville State. He took the Louisiana Tech job in 2011 and went 18-16 his first season in Ruston.
The last two seasons, though, the Bulldogs are 56-15 with a regular-season Western Athletic Conference title last season and a share of the Conference USA crown this season. In both seasons, White’s team lost in the conference tournament to earn a bid to the National Invitation Tournament.
According to Louisiana Tech’s official athletic web site, White has used a “pressuring man-to-man defense and fast-paced, dribble-drive offense” to turn around a program that last went to the NCAA tournament in 1991. The Bulldogs had losing seasons in five of the six years prior to White’s arrival. Louisiana Tech averaged 81 points per game this season.
White agreed to a contract extension earlier this month that bumped his salary to $600,000 and increased his buyout to $600,000, according to the Shreveport Times.
White’s father, Kevin, is currently the athletic director at Duke, and Louisiana Tech hired Tyler Summitt, the son of legendary retired Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt, to run its women’s program earlier this month.
Martin surprisingly took the Golden Bears’ job six days ago, and he owes Tennessee $1.3 million for terminating his contract early, though the program hiring the coach typically pays that sum.
The Vols are coming off the program’s fourth Sweet 16 in eight seasons, but the new coach, whoever it is, will take over a team that must replace four starters next season. All-SEC performers Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes, senior leader Jeronne Maymon and starting point guard Antonio Barton scored more than 70 percent of Tennessee’s points this season.
Four incoming recruits — point guard Larry Austin, swingman Jordan Cornish and forwards Phil Cofer and C.J. Turman — signed with Tennessee in the early signing period in the fall.
Contact Patrick Brown at email@example.com.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...