NIT title matchup may be coach's last Tulsa game

Thursday, March 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The NIT championship game Thursday could be Buzz Peterson's last as Tulsa coach.

Reports continue to put Peterson among a field of candidates for the head coaching vacancy at Tennessee.

But Peterson, in New York for Tulsa's championship game against Alabama, said Wednesday he has had no contact with Tennessee officials.

Don Tomkalski, Tulsa's sports information director, said Thursday that Peterson planned to fly back to Tulsa with the basketball team on Friday. He did not know whether Tennessee officials had asked for permission to speak to Peterson.

Peterson again denied an Internet report that will accept Tennessee job if offered it, although the first-year coach stopped short of saying he would refuse it.

``Sources say I'd take the job,'' Peterson told the Tulsa World. ``I haven't been offered it, and I haven't talked to anybody. It's strictly rumor. I'm happy as a lark to be in Tulsa. I'm enjoying this run. By no means do I want this job to be a distraction for our team.''

Tennessee Tech coach Jeff Lebo has been interviewed for the Tennessee vacancy and Gregg Marshall of Winthrop was expected to be interviewed.

Peterson is Tulsa's second coach in two years and joined the program last year after a 79-39 four-year run at Appalachian State.

The Golden Hurricane (25-11) reached the NCAA regional finals last season under Bill Self, who departed for Illinois.

Tulsa has made it to the round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament three times in the past eight years, including last year's NCAA run.

With a win Thursday, Tulsa would celebrate the 20th anniversary of its last NIT title with another NIT championship trophy.