Finally ... UT, Anderson to chat

One of the first names to surface in the search for a new University of Tennessee basketball coach is finally getting an interview.

UT has requested permission to speak with Mike Anderson, head coach at Alabama Birmingham. Anderson, who formerly assisted Nolan Richardson at Tulsa and Arkansas, is regarded as an outstanding recruiter and one of the NCAA's up-and-coming coaches.

Anderson, 45, has a 65-33 record at UAB with at least 21 wins in each of his three seasons there. He guided the Blazers to a stunning upset of No. 1 seed Kentucky and an eventual Sweet 16 berth in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. He led this year's UAB team to an NCAA first-round rout of LSU before suffering a second-round loss.

Anderson makes a reported $600,000 per year and has a relatively small buyout ($300,000).

Other coaches considered prime candidates to be UT's next head man include Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Bruce Pearl, Creighton's Dana Altman and Charlotte's Bobby Lutz. All of these candidates appear exceptionally qualified for the Vol job, which has been vacant since Buzz Peterson was fired March 13.

Meanwhile, one-time frontrunner Bob Knight of Texas Tech appears to be losing ground. He has not been interviewed because his Red Raiders are still participating in the NCAA Tournament.

The current frontrunner appears to be Pearl, who has the endorsement of former Vol All-American Ernie Grunfeld. Since Wisconsin-Milwaukee faces No. 1 Illinois tonight in the NCAA Sweet 16, Pearl will not interview for the job until his team is eliminated from The Dance.

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