Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart says the criticism former men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin encountered this season shouldn't hinder the search for a successor.

Martin led Tennessee to an NCAA regional semifinal during a season in which disgruntled fans circulated a petition calling for the return of former coach Bruce Pearl, now at Auburn. Martin left Tuesday to take over California's program.

Martin was 63-41 in three years at Tennessee, including a 24-13 mark this season before falling to Michigan in the Midwest regional semifinal.

Hart acknowledged Martin faced plenty of "distractions" this season, but added that the Tennessee job remains "extremely attractive."

Hart says he wants a proven winner with a "significant track record," but didn't rule out selecting a "rising star."