Just last week, the Tennessee Volunteers‘ athletic department announced a $50,000 annual pay raise for its head men’s basketball coach, Cuonzo Martin.
There’s no doubt that the Volunteers are making a wise move by upping the annual contract for Martin moving forward. In fact, should Tennessee continue to grow and rebound like they have over the past few seasons, Martin is likely due for an entire contract extension in the coming years. Martin’s current deal runs through the 2015-16 season, but expectations are already on the rise for this upcoming year.
Martin took over a Tennessee program that virtually appeared to be heading south following the whole violations fiasco that the university suffered under former head coach, Bruce Pearl. In two seasons since taking over however, Martin has gone above and beyond those battered expectations, guiding the Volunteers to back-to-back NIT appearances.
In terms of looking ahead to 2014 however, the NCAA Tournament has to be on their minds. The return of Jarnell Stokes inside is huge, but so too is Jeronne Maymon, who missed all of last season with a nagging injury. Maymon and Stokes should immediately combine to be one the better front courts, not just in the SEC, but possibly in the nation.
Martin has proven himself to be the rightful leader for this Tennessee program and there’s no doubt that he has the Vols heading in a direction that will allow them to return to national relevance in the coming years.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS