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Two years, one month, and one day. That’s how long the Heath Schroyer era lasted at UT Martin.

Those two years brought 41 wins, the best two-year span in the Skyhawks Division I basketball history. Those two years brought back-to-back postseasons, and a West Division ‘championship.’

Good riddance.

Don’t get me wrong, Schroyer is a great coach, who took a team coming off three years years with single-digit wins and made them relevant. He left Las Vegas for a small town even among small towns in Tennessee, and ended up at a school with a friend in the Athletic Director’s offense, and without a doubt the biggest paycheck for a men’s basketball coach in the school’s history.

On the court, he delivered almost everything your could ask for. Schroyer, more likely than not, will be a great coach for years to come.

But this entire process is an insult, an insult to the great hospitality the city of Martin, the University, and the fans.

I think it’s safe to say that the majority of people that take over a mid-major program is hoping to use the school as a stepping stone. There’s nothing wrong with going to a place you don’t expect to make your final destination, and Schroyer, best I can tell, misled the school about his long-term prospects.

After two season, Schroyer was a candidate for the head coaching job at UNLV — twice in one year, even. He was believed to be in the mix at New Mexico State. Both are good programs, and without a positions to consider.

Instead, he leaves, seemingly, to be an assistant once more. (…somewhat ironically under a former OVC coach at NC State.)

From most reports, Schroyer will be paid more to be an assistant with the Wolfpack than a head coach. And NC State obviously has a higher profile than UT Martin. But this entire mess goes to show that Schroyer’s motives when coming to UT Martin were never about the Skyhawks. He never wanted to make UTM great.

He wanted to make himself great, first and foremost.

There was no second place.

Look at the great coaches who have come and gone from the OVC in recent years. Steve Prohm and Billy Kennedy at Murray State, Jeff Neubauer at Eastern Kentucky, John Cooper at Tennessee State, just to name a few. These coaches all had great success in the OVC, and left for better jobs and more money in bigger conferences.

He wanted to make himself great, first and foremost.

But these guys weren’t using their school as just a means to an end. (Or if they did, they were a whole lot better at hiding it) Sure, they all had aspirations, which they fulfilled, of taking that next step, and the fans (mostly) understood that.

Many Martin fans I talked to knew from Day 1 Schroyer was a short-timer. And after two years, two successful years, after failing to land at his next step, he did the next best thing for him — he jumped at the next best offer. I don’t think this move is about the money at all. I don’t think Schroyer, who was making $200,000 a year, suddenly decided that he needed a raise.

I think he decided that he didn’t want to be a Skyhawk anymore. He decided that the school wasn’t a quick enough path to where he wanted to go, so he looked for any opportunity to get out.

…he decided there was nothing left to use at Martin.

I don’t think Schroyer, who was making $200,000 a year, suddenly decided that he needed a raise.

March 13th, 2014. One day before Heath Schroyer would be named the next head coach at UT Martin, the school’s new athletic director, Julio Freire, called a press conference to name his next head coach. Everyone knew it was Schroyer. The two worked together at UNLV. Schroyer was on the school’s short list. Who else could it be?

The next day, the decision was announced. But Freire claimed that the deal wasn’t done until hours after the press conference was announced.

Right then and there, something began to smell. Something was clearly not right.

Last month, Friere took a step down to head to a bigger school.

…It appears to have inspired his buddy to do the same.

Heath will be back. He’ll be a head coach again. And odds are, he’ll be pretty good at it.

UT Martin is still better off without him.

 

 


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OVC Ball
Predicting the OVC race…in mid-December

2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVCOverall

EAST

Belmont8-014-4
Morehead State6-310-12
Tennessee Tech5-39-14
Jacksonville State5-413-11
Tennessee State4-413-8
Eastern Kentucky2-69-14

WEST

UT Martin5-315-8
Murray State5-311-11
SEMO5-310-13
Austin Peay3-57-15
Eastern Illinois1-79-12
SIUE0-85-17
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