Hamilton discusses firing of Buzz Peterson

Athletics director Mike Hamilton lowered the curtain on another ill-fated Vol basketball coaching regime at 2 o'clock today, confirming the dismissal of Buzz Peterson and his staff. Ace recruiter Chuck Benson will stay on -- at least on an interim basis -- to ''continue to manage all aspects of the basketball program,'' Hamilton said.

Peterson's four-year record was a mediocre 61-59, including 14-17 in 2004-05. His four-year Southeastern Conference mark was a disappointing 29-35. The Vols never made the NCAA Tournament and managed NIT bids in just two of Peterson's four seasons, suffering first-round losses each time.

Hamilton said he informed Peterson of the firing at 5 p.m. on Sunday. He noted that the outgoing coach handled the news ''in a first-class manner, as he has always handled things during his career at UT.''

Reading from a prepared statement, Hamilton said Tennessee ''should strive to compete for championships in all programs. We simply have not achieved expectations in this regard in men's basketball in the last four years.''

Although many fans suggested the Vols give Peterson one more season to prove himself, Hamilton was looking further down the road in making his decision.

''In fairness to Buzz, I did not feel I could step to the podium today with confidence and say that Buzz will be our coach two, three or five years from now,'' Hamilton said. ''The inability to do so has dire consequences on recruiting, the stability of staff and, ultimately, results on the floor. Buzz has many of the characteristics we have look for in a coach, but we were found lacking in the area of wins and losses in a business that measures success according to such parameters. It is for this reason, ultimately, that we made this decision.''

The ''we'' being referenced was Hamilton and UT President Dr. John Petersen, who played a key role in the decision-making process.

Hamilton says he keeps a ''short list'' of coaching candidates for all of UT's varsity sports in case he suddenly loses a coach. The search for a new basketball coach, he said, ''has already begun.'' He added that Tennessee has enlisted the services of Champ Sports of Los Angeles to assist in the search process.

Although the past two decades have seen UT go through five coaches (Don DeVoe, Wade Houston, Kevin O'Neill, Jerry Green and Peterson) while enjoying minimal success on the floor, Hamilton remains optimistic about the program's future.

''We can have success in men's basketball at the University of Tennessee,'' he said. ''We have a great job with outstanding resources, an excellent support system, a world-class academic institution and the best fans in America. We should expect greatness, and I look forward to all of us achieving this together.''

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