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Mizzou basketball, Cuonzo Martin part ways

SEC Mississippi Missouri Basketball
Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 20:46:40-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Cuonzo Martin will not return as the University of Missouri-Columbia men’s basketball coach next season.

Martin is gone after five seasons, including two NCAA Tournament appearances, with the Tigers.

Mizzou's Director of Athletics Desireé Reed-Francois announced the coaching change Friday.

“Coach Martin represented the University with an extremely high level of class and dignity,” Reed-Francois said in a release. “He is a man of high character whom I have the upmost respect for, and we are grateful for his contributions to our program, on and off the floor. He is not only a coach, but is a teacher, and he has impacted the lives of every student-athlete who came through the program over the last five years. We wish him, Roberta, and their family nothing but the best in the future.”

The release said that a national search for Martin's replacement will begin immediately.

Mizzou finished a disappointing 12-21, including a loss Thursday against LSU in the second round of the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Martin, who was under contract through 2024, made $3.1 million last season.

Now, Mizzou must pay a $6-million buyout for terminating Martin’s contract prior to April 30. That figure would have been cut in half May 1, but it also would have complicated the head-coaching search.

The Tigers finished 12th in the SEC during the regular season, their third finish of 10th or worse in Martin’s five seasons.

The Martin era started with immense excitement when he landed the nation’s top recruit in the 2017 class, Michael Porter Jr.

Despite Porter missing most of the 2017-18 season with a back injury, Mizzou still managed to make the NCAA tourney, exiting with a first-round loss to Florida State.

The Tigers went 20-13 that season, which turned out to be the high point of Martin’s tenure in Columbia.

MU finished below .500 each of the next two seasons, going 15-17 and 15-16 respectively, before a strong start fueled optimism in 2020-21.

The Tigers started the season 13-3 and rose to No. 10 in The Associated Press poll, but the team faded down the stretch and lost another 8/9 matchup in the NCAA tourney against Oklahoma last March.

He finished 78-77 overall, including 35-53 in conference play, during his time with MU.

The 12-21 mark was the worst of Martin’s 14-year NCAA Division I head coaching career since going 11-20 in 2008-09 with Missouri State University, his first season with the Bears.

After three years at MSU, Martin spent three seasons at the University of Tennessee, where he worked with new Mizzou Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois and then spent three seasons at the University of California-Berkeley.

Martin, who replaced Kim Anderson in March 2017, is well respected as a principled and hard-nosed coach. He was a strong voice for change during the tumultuous 2020 summer amid protests after George Floyd's murder by Minneapolis police.