Peterson came to Tennessee after leading Tulsa to an NIT crown in his first season as head coach at the school. He replaced Jerry Green, who took the Vols to four straight NCAA appearances, but had become a public relations liability. His team's discipline and performance declined drastically by his fourth season in Knoxville while its post season performance was spotty at best.
Still there was enough remaining talent on hand to reach the promised land, particularly in year one when UT had Ron Slay, Marcus Haislip and Brandon Crump in the front line. Peterson finishes only one game over .500 at Tennessee and never made the NCAA Tournament field of 65. Twice the Vols suffered losing seasons under Peterson, including this year when they went 14-17 and 6-12 in the SEC. UT was 2-6 in post season play under Peterson, including two first round exits in the SEC Tournament and two more in the NIT. The Vols never advanced past the quarterfinals in the SEC tourney under Peterson.
Apparently even lobbying by such heavyweights as Pat Summitt, Dean Smith, Peyton Manning and Phil Fulmer wasn't enough to gain Peterson a fifth season at the UT helm. His dismissal will mark the fifth coaching change for the Vols in the last 16 years and follows a period in which the Vols made just one coaching change in 27 years.
Procedures for hiring Peterson's successor will be outlined by Hamilton and delays could be expected, especially if the candidate comes from the current field of NCAA teams.
Among early names of interest are UAB head coach Mike Anderson, a longtime assistant to Nolan Richardson at Arkansas, who has taken his team to consecutive NCAA appearances, and Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall, who has led the Eagles to six Big South Conference titles and NCAA trips in his seven years at the Rock Hill, S.C. college. The Vols could also elect to make a run for a high-profile candidate or even consider a highly regarded assistant from a major program.