KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- "Truthfully, it really didn't."
That was Cuonzo Martin's response Tuesday when a California reporter suggested that the petition that circulated around Tennessee to remove Martin has the Vols' head coach hurt his feelings.
"When you are talking about sport, win or lose, whatever happens, it doesn't change me as a man. It doesn't change my ability to be a father, a husband, a son to my mom," Martin said.
A "Bring Back Bruce (Pearl)" petition circulated around Knoxville after Tennessee suffered some (bad) midseason losses. It received roughly 36,000 signatures.
After three years as Tennessee's head coach, Martin unexpectedly accepted the same position at Cal Tuesday.
UT athletic director Dave Hart said he wasn't aware of Martin's decision until Tuesday morning.
Hart held a news conference Tuesday, addressing the situation. Hart felt that the negative news toward Martin did impact his desire to leave Tennessee.
"I don't think Cuonzo's decision was driven by dollars or was driven by necessarily number of years. It was a tough year," Hart said.
"There were a lot of distractions, you know what they were, you reported on them. Pretty tough for those young men and I talked to them and they have unsolicited, as the end of the year was progressing, made comments about how tough that was. It was a tough situation."
Martin told California reporters that he learned of the petition after a road game. He recalled that after the game, while shaking hands, a couple coaches on the opposing team told him, 'you're doing a good job, hang in there, and we're praying for you."
Once in the locker room, Martin asked his assistants "is there something I need to know."
"Maybe it's the petition," once assistant answered.
To which Martin responded: "I had no clue."
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