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Vols hire Tyndall

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s coaching position had just become available when Donnie Tyndall received a text message urging him to pursue the job.

This particular message did not come from Tyndall’s agent. It instead was from his 11-year-old daughter, Grace Elizabeth. Her note said in all capital letters, “THE TENNESSEE JOB IS OPEN. HINT, HINT.”

“Certainly this is a job that was on my radar — and Gracie’s too,” Tyndall said Tuesday at his introductory press conference as Tennessee’s coach.

Tyndall agreed to a six-year contract worth $1.6 million per year to replace Cuonzo Martin, who went 63-41 in three seasons at Tennessee before California hired him April 15.

The 43-year-old went 56-17 with a pair of NIT appearances in two seasons at Southern Mississippi. Before going to Southern Mississippi, Tyndall was 114-85 with two NCAA Tournament appearances in six seasons at Morehead State, which had gone 4-23 the year before his arrival. His 2011 Morehead State team upset Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.

Tyndall called Tennessee a place where “you can compete to go to the Final Four and you can compete to win a national championship. And that’s my plan.”

Tyndall added: “Tennessee, to me, is a destination job.”

The hire of Tyndall continues Tennessee’s recent tradition of selecting coaches from mid-major programs. Martin came to Tennessee in 2011 after three seasons at Missouri State. Martin was preceded by Bruce Pearl, who arrived at Tennessee from Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Tyndall also has experience coaching in the Southeastern Conference and in the state of Tennessee. He was an assistant at LSU from 1997-2001 and at Middle Tennessee from 2002-06.

“Donnie Tyndall fits the profile perfectly,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said.

Tyndall faces some immediate challenges, as it loses four of its top five scorers from the team that went 23-14 and reached a regional semifinal this season.

Tyndall said he planned to use the same aggressive, attacking style of basketball that helped his teams win at least 24 games four of the last five seasons, including a 29-7 mark this year. Tyndall had agreed to terms with Southern Mississippi on a new four-year contract worth $500,000 annually in January. He owes Southern Mississippi $500,000 under the terms of his buyout.

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