Cal basketball coach Cuonzo Martin resigns

The head coach of the University of California at Berkeley’s men’s basketball team, Cuonzo Martin, resigned Wednesday, according to university officials.

Martin ended his three-year tenure at Berkeley to take the head coach job at the University of Missouri.

University of Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk said in a written statement:

“Our goal was to find a coach who had demonstrated success, academically and on the court, while also sharing our values and who can help to reignite interest in Mizzou men’s basketball among our fan base. …  I look forward to watching him compete for championships and postseason appearances for many years to come.”

Martin, a native of East St. Louis, Ill., coached Cal to an overall 62-39 record and last season took the team to the NCAA Tournament with a No. 4 seed, its highest in school history.

Cal was bounced in the first round by Hawaii that year.

His resignation comes just a day after the team lost to Bakersfield in the first round of the NIT Tournament after posting a 21-13 record this season.

Cal’s Athletic Director Mike Williams said in a written statement:

“We put forth our best effort to retain him but he told me it wasn’t about Cal, rather a strong desire to move closer to home.”

Wyking Jones, the Bears’ assistant coach, will serve as the team’s interim head coach.

Williams praised Martin for guiding the team to its tournament appearances despite the losses and for “creating excitement inside Hass Pavilion,” where the team plays.

Martin’s time at Cal was not without its rough patches, however.

Last April, assistant coach Yann Hufnagel resigned after being accused of sexually harassing a female reporter covering the team.

Martin was already looking to fire Hufnagel after the university found that he had violated the school’s sexual harassment policy.

A university investigation cleared Martin of any wrongdoing in his handling of the woman’s complaint.

Martin worked at Cal for two years before signing a $1.6 million contract last June that also included signing and retention bonuses.

Prior to coaching at Cal, Martin headed the basketball program at the University of Tennessee for three seasons.

Martin played his college basketball at Purdue University, graduating in 1995, and played four years in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks and Vancouver Grizzlies, according to his biography posted on the Cal website.