In his three seasons at Tennessee, Peterson has directed the Vols to a pair of postseason tournament appearances, wins over teams ranked among the top five in the nation and an upper third finish in the powerful Southeastern Conference.
Individually, players have flourished under Peterson's leadership. Five players have earned All-SEC honors during Peterson's tenure, including two first team all-conference picks and the 2003 SEC Player of the Year.
Ron Slay was named the SEC Player of the Year and earned third team All-America honors after leading the SEC in scoring with 21.2 points per game in 2003. Vincent Yarbrough was a 2002 first team All-SEC selection after finishing second in the league scoring race with 18.1 points per game.
Marcus Haislip, the 13th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, earned second team All-SEC honors as a junior in 2002. Scooter McFadgon ranked fourth in the league scoring race in 2004 with 17.9 points per game while earning consensus second team all-conference honors.
C.J. Watson was named to the 2003 SEC All-Freshman team after his 5.44 assists per game against SEC foes led the league.
One of Peterson's most impressive coaching jobs came during the 2002-03 season when no one picked Tennessee to finish better than fifth in the SEC. But, when the smoke cleared from a season that saw the conference finish No. 1 in the Ratings Percentage Index, the Vols' 9-7 league record ranked in a tie with Western Division champion Mississippi State for the fourth-best mark in the entire conference.
Fans throughout East Tennessee have taken notice of what is happening in Thompson-Boling Arena. In each of his seasons in Knoxville, Tennessee has ranked among the top three attendance leaders in the SEC and has also ranked among the national leaders in attendance.
Peterson was named the 16th head coach in Tennessee history on April 4, 2001 after leading the University of Tulsa to a 26-11 record and a National Invitation Tournament championship during the 2000-01 season. In seven seasons as a head coach he has recorded a 137-78 career record.
"This is a dream opportunity for the Peterson family," he said. "I count my blessings every day that I am able to come to work here. The men's basketball program at the University of Tennessee couldn't be a better situation for our family. This athletic department as a whole, as well as this University, is well recognized throughout the nation. I'm excited to be here and I am looking forward to the opportunity to working with these young men and winning championships."
Winning has been a trademark of Peterson's on every level. In high school, he was named the top player in the state of North Carolina. In college, at the University of North Carolina, he was a part of the Tar Heels' 1982 NCAA Championship team. As an assistant coach he helped direct Appalachian State, East Tennessee State, North Carolina State and Vanderbilt to a combined 154-117 record and appearances in the NCAA Tournament and NIT. As a head coach he has directed teams to NCAA Tournament appearances, conference championships and a National Invitation Tournament title.
He has coached eight teams to postseason tournament action, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and five National Invitation Tournament appearances. Additionally he played in four NCAA Tournaments at North Carolina. He has won conference championships (as the head coach at Appalachian State), NCAA championships (as a player at North Carolina) and NIT championships (as the head coach at Tulsa).
Much of Peterson's success can be attributed to the influences in his career. As a player he played with the likes of Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Brad Daugherty and Kenny Smith. He has also been exposed to outstanding coaches like Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Eddie Fogler, Bill Guthridge, Les Robinson, Tom Apke and Jan van Breda Kolff.
Another thing that has made Peterson so successful on and off the court is his care for his players. The Asheville, N.C., native has placed a high priority on the relationships he has gained through his experiences and continues to build relationships with his players.
"I love to have the players over to the house and challenge them to a game of pool or ping pong. I want them to know me as a person just like they are. I don't want them to know me only as a guy on the floor who is yelling at them trying to motivate them or as a guy behind a desk. I want them to know me as a person. If they have a problem socially, academically or basketball-wise, I want to be that father figure that they can come to and talk about it."
Building unity on the team is a high priority for Peterson, but just as important is building a unity between the University of Tennessee basketball program and the Knoxville community.
"Along with team unity, I think it is important that we are active in the community; that everybody gets to know the student-athletes on the men's basketball team and everybody gets to know the basketball staff."
In 2003 the basketball team was named Tennessee's Men's Community Service Teams of the Year by UT's CHAMPS/Life Skills office. Watson was named co-Male Community Service Student-Athlete of the Year, an honor he shared with baseball's Luke Hochevar.
At Tulsa, Peterson led the Golden Hurricane to a 26-11 overall record and a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference with a 10-6 league record. He became just the fourth coach in Tulsa history to win 20 games in his first season at the school.
With a team that featured just two seniors and one junior, Peterson directed Tulsa to its eighth NIT appearance. After defeating California-Irvine in the first round, Tulsa went on the road to earn wins at Minnesota and Mississippi State to gain a trip to New York City for the NIT Final Four. In the semifinals the Golden Hurricane held on for a 72-64 win over Memphis and then in the finals, Tulsa cruised to a 79-60 win over Alabama.
Prior to taking over the head coaching reins at Tulsa, Peterson spent four seasons as the head coach at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. He led the Mountaineers to a 79-39 overall record and a 47-14 mark in the Southern Conference. In each of his last three seasons at Appalachian State the Mountaineers either won or shared Southern Conference North Division titles.
Peterson led the Mountaineers to 20 or more wins and appearances in the Southern Conference Tournament championship game in each of his last three seasons at Appalachian State. The Mountaineers won the Southern Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in the 1999-2000 season.
In 1996-97 he took over a program that had won just eight games the previous year and led ASU to a 14-14 record. The following year the Mountaineers posted a 21-8 record and Peterson received the first of two Southern Conference Coach of the Year awards. Success under Peterson continued at Appalachian State as he led the Mountaineers to a 21-8 record in 1999 and a 23-9 mark in 2000, with a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Following the 2000 season he was named the conference coach of the year for the second time.
Peterson began his coaching career as an assistant at Appalachian State where he served the 1988 and 1989 seasons as an assistant under Tom Apke. The Mountaineers won 36 of their 59 games (61.1 percent) in his two seasons, including a 20-8 mark in 1989.
He joined Les Robinson's East Tennessee State coaching staff in time for the 1990 season where he helped direct the Bucs to a 27-7 record. ETSU won the Southern Conference regular season and tournament championships in his only season in Johnson City. The Bucs earned just the third trip to the NCAA Tournament in school history, falling to No. 4-seeded Georgia Tech, 99-83, in a first-round game played at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Peterson followed Robinson to North Carolina State the next season where he helped lead the Wolfpack to a 20-11 record in 1991 and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Peterson got his first taste of Southeastern Conference basketball in 1993 when he joined Jan van Breda Kolff's staff as associate head coach at Vanderbilt. During his three seasons in Nashville, the Commodores registered a 51-41 overall record and made two appearances in the National Invitation Tournament. The Commodores advanced to the championship game of the 1994 NIT before falling 73-80 to Villanova.
One of the most decorated high school players in the state of North Carolina, Peterson was a Parade and McDonald's All-America selection coming out of Asheville High School. He was named the North Carolina Player of the Year and Athlete of the Year as a senior. The runner-up for both awards was future college roommate Michael Jordan.
The Asheville, N.C., native earned four monograms at North Carolina, serving as a team captain during his senior season in 1985. During his four seasons in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels captured four Atlantic Coast Conference championships and one ACC Tournament title while recording a 115-22 record. A member of UNC's 1982 national championship team, Peterson was voted the Outstanding Senior by his teammates following the 1984-85 season.
Following his collegiate career, Peterson was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1985 NBA draft. He also spent one year as a scout for Bob Gibbons' All-Star Sports recruiting service before beginning his coaching career at Appalachian State.
A 1986 North Carolina graduate with a bachelor's degree in geography, Peterson and his wife, Jan, have two daughters, Nicole and Olivia, and a son, Rob. Peterson's father, Bob, is a 1959 Tennessee graduate with a degree in retailing from the college of business.
|Full Name: Robert Bower Peterson, Jr.|
|Born: May 17, 1963|
|Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina|
|Family: Wife - Jan; Daughters - Nicole and Olivia; Son - Rob|
|College: University of North Carolina 1986; Bachelor's degree in geography|
|High School: Asheville High School 1981|
|As a Player: University of North Carolina 1981-1985|
|Head Coaching Record|
|1999-00||Appalachian State||23-9||.742||NCAA Tournament|
|1987-89||Appalachian State||Assistant Coach|
|1989-90||East Tennessee State||Assistant Coach|
|1990-93||North Carolina State||Assistant Coach|
|1993-96||Vanderbilt||Associate Head Coach|
|1996-00||Appalachian State||Head Coach|
|1998 Southern Conference Coach of the Year|
|2000 Southern Conference Coach of the Year|