Buzz Peterson, the former head coach of Tennessee and Tulsa and former Director of Player Personnel for the Charlotte Bobcats, returned to Appalachian State last year after the school concluded an extensive hiring process.
Peterson had previously coached the Mountaineers in a very successful stint from 1996-2000. Peterson also played for the North Carolina Tar Heels under legendary coach Dean Smith and during his college career played alongside Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty, James Worthy and fellow head coach Matt Doherty.
Now, only one year later, Peterson has left Appalachian for a new job as the head coach for UNC-Wilmington, leaving the Mountaineers with another coaching search and instability in the program.
App State AD Charlie Cobb thought after last season’s drawn out hiring process, Peterson might be the head coach for some time, but according to the Winston-Salem Journal, was dismayed and somewhat caught off guard by Peterson’s abrupt departure:
“The situation we went through last year was a little bit difficult,” Cobb said. “Certainly every indication was that he was going to be the coach here for a long period of time. So it’s terribly disappointing, frankly, in that regard. But everybody’s got to do what’s best for them and their family.”
So why did Peterson leave after only one full season? To put it simply, the job at UNCW will bring him an annual salary that’s about twice his current salary, once performance incentives, bonuses and other compensations are added, putting the total somewhere in the $435,000 a year range.
It also shows how large of an enterprise that college basketball has become. Appalachian State’s compensation package for Peterson with all aspects included totaled about $225,000 a year, far and away above what most Americans earn, but the salary that ASU is able to pay is considered minor in context. Peterson was well qualified and experienced, and ASU couldn’t keep him for the money they were able to pay.