Cuonzo Martin resigns as Cal men’s basketball head coach

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Cuonzo Martin has resigned from his position as Cal men’s basketball head coach, reportedly to take the same job at the University of Missouri.

The resignation comes a day after the Bears’ first-round loss in the NIT — an embarrassing upset, as they were a No. 1 seed. Wyking Jones will serve as the interim head coach for Cal.

“Cuonzo Martin informed me this morning that he is resigning to accept a position at another school,” Cal Athletics director Mike Williams said in a statement. “We put forth our best effort to retain him, but he told me it wasn’t about Cal, rather a strong desire to move closer to home.”

Martin is from East St. Louis, Illinois — roughly 100 miles from the University of Missouri — and rumors that he would return to the area have followed him throughout his career. The offer was first reported by ESPN on Wednesday morning and subsequent details have emerged from various outlets throughout the day.

Before he resigned, Martin was receiving a 2017 pre-bonus salary of roughly $1.9 million with Cal. ESPN has also reported that Martin is receiving a 7-year deal from the University of Missouri worth a little more than $21 million.

As part of the contract he signed with Cal in June, after two years of coaching under an offer sheet, Martin owes UC Berkeley $1.2 million for leaving before April 14.

Martin was an excellent recruiter during his time with the Bears, bringing in Jaylen Brown, who was the third pick in the 2016 NBA draft, and sophomore Ivan Rabb, who is expected to be a first-round pick in the 2017 draft. He also recruited freshman Charlie Moore, 2016’s Illinois Mr. Basketball. The University of Missouri will rely on him to attract high-level

Midwestern talent because of his connection to the area.

His resignation exacerbates an already-tumultuous 2017 for Cal Athletics. Former football coach Sonny Dykes was fired in January — extremely late for college football coaches — and on National Signing Day on Feb. 1, new head coach Justin Wilcox put together a rushed recruiting class that barely ranked in the nation’s top 75.

Dykes’ firing and expensive severance pay came on the heels of reports about the dire financial situation of Cal Athletics, which ran a $22 million deficit in 2016.

Check back for updates.

Andrew Wild is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @andrewwild17.

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  • John Smith

    Let’s see … first Cal makes its version of The Village Idiot its AD, THEN Cal makes Martin coach for 2 years without a contract while giving Dykes a million-dollar raise THEN the administration blind-sides Martin by firing his assistant just before the NCAA’s.

    If their intention was to make Martin quit, they couldn’t have done a more complete job. Still, there wasn’t really an excuse for this year. The team quit on itself and Martin let them. No matter what Cal did to him, Martin had a responsibility to his team that he completely, utterly failed to live up to.

    Going forward, though, the one thing we do NOT want is to put Mike Williams in charge of selecting the next basketball coach. God help us if that happens because it’s gonna end badly. Very badly.