Jerry Green Resigns From Tenn.

Wednesday, March 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jerry Green won plenty of games at Tennessee, but not enough of the big ones.

Green resigned Tuesday after a fourth 20-win season and the Volunteers' fourth straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

He transformed Tennessee from an embarrassing program with only two winning seasons in the previous 10 years to one that many believed could compete on a national stage.

Green just could not sustain that level long enough.

``The bottom line comes down to those great moments of wins that build continuity in a program. That's probably where we missed it,'' athletics director Doug Dickey said Tuesday after announcing Green's resignation. ``We didn't get those magic moments. Win the conference championship and lose the first game.''

The day after the Vols lost 70-63 to Charlotte in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Dickey gave Green the chance to stay or negotiate a resignation. He said Green chose to resign. Green's home went up for sale Tuesday morning.

``I thought he might be getting himself into a situation that he would be discouraged, and (if) he wanted another option, we'd let him have that,'' Dickey said.

Green's contract, which paid him $545,000 annually, was to expire March 31, 2005. His package included apparel endorsements and radio and television appearances.

Tennessee negotiated a $1.1 million buyout over five years: a $100,000 payment on March 31, then annual payments of $200,000 through 2006.

Green, 57, who replaced Kevin O'Neill as head coach in 1997, did not attend the news conference and was out of town, but he issued a statement.

``This is an emotional time for me because I have never before left where I felt that my work was incomplete.

``Even though I feel optimistic about the prospects for next season, I believe that in the best interests of myself and the university, it is time for a change,'' Green said.

No timetable was given for hiring a new coach.

Dickey said expectations remain high for the basketball program, and the university wants a coach that can further elevate its status.

``We're at a mid level in the Southeastern Conference right now. We made one game in the NCAA tournament. We didn't do very well in the SEC tournament, and we're looking for somebody who has insight and enthusiasm to move this through to the next level,'' he said.

Green's record at Tennessee was 89-36, the best winning percentage since Ray Mears, who coached from 1962-77.

The Vols were 20-9 in Green's first season and 22-11 this year. Tennessee had not posted consecutive 20-win seasons since Don DeVoe from 1981-85.

Tennessee went to the NCAA's round of 16 last season for the first time in school history.

The expectations this year were to improve on that success.

The Vols started 16-1, with a No. 4 ranking and wins over Wisconsin, Iowa and Syracuse.

Tennessee's season started to fall apart once conference play began. The Vols lost five in a row and fell to 8-8 in the conference after having the best record in the SEC East the past two years.

Assistant coach Chris Ferguson will be in charge of the team until a coach is hired, Dickey said.