Will He Stay Or Will He Go?

Monday, April 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

University of Tulsa president Robert Lawless said it's a ''50-50'' call whether coach Buzz Peterson will stay at the school amid courting by Tennessee and South Carolina.

Peterson met with Tennessee officials who are interested in him becoming their next head coach, according to published reports Monday in the World, The Tennessean and The Knoxville News-Sentinel.

''(Peterson) was assured that we wanted him here and that anything we could do, if there were things that we could do, we would certainly consider whatever we could to keep him here,'' Lawless said.

Peterson led the Hurricane to the National Invitation Tournament title and a 26-11 record in his first season. He took over for Bill Self, who turned down a sweetened compensation package at Tulsa to take the head coaching job at Illinois for $825,000 per year.

Tennessee athletic director Doug Dickey and president J. Wade Gilley flew to Minneapolis to meet with Peterson or Peterson flew with a booster to meet them at an undisclosed location, the newspapers reported.

Peterson met Saturday with South Carolina athletic director Mike McGee, but sources said he wasn't offered the Gamecocks' job.

Lawless said he and Peterson talked about how unusual it would be for Peterson to leave Tulsa after just one year. Lawless said he thinks Tulsa is the kind of program that can produce consecutive 20-win seasons and become one of the most prestigious programs in the country.

``I don't think that either Tennessee or South Carolina really presents that kind of opportunity. I think they are both situations which could result in the kind of experience that Steve Robinson has had at Florida State (three consecutive losing seasons). I guess time will tell if that was a good move for his career or not,'' Lawless said.

He said Peterson's next move is to talk to Tulsa athletic director Judy MacLeod.

Tennessee has also interviewed Tennessee Tech's Jeff Lebo and Winthrop's Gregg Marshall, among others.