The Star's blog on college sports, featuring Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri
Shaka Smart has passed up other chances to leave VCU
04/23/2014 1:30 PM
04/23/2014 1:30 PM
Texas-El Paso’s Tim Floyd and Central Missouri’s Kim Anderson have been linked to Missouri’s open men’s basketball job.
But the list of coaches who say no one from MU or an intermediary has reached out is considerably longer. It includes Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall and Stephen F. Austin’s Brad Underwood, a former Kansas State assistant under Bob Huggins and Frank Martin.
One name that has popped up on wish lists during Missouri’s search is VCU’s Shaka Smart.
It’s unclear if MU has reached out to Smart since Frank Haith left for Tulsa last week, but three years ago Smart was believed to be one of Missouri’s top targets.
Smart has been a scorching hot candidate since guiding the Rams to the Final Four in 2011, but it seems unlikely the Tigers could lure him.
Hesigned an eight-year contract extension, which bumped his pay from $325,000 to $1.2 million annually, in 2011. On year later, he turned down $2.5 million per year from Illinois to remain at VCU. When Smart turned down UCLA (and Minnesota, for that matter)
after the 2012-13 season, he got another pay bump to $1.5 million per year through 2023.
Much like Marshall, Smart is the king of his campus. Smart’s Rams don’t share the spotlight with a football program. VCU also committed big money — roughly $25 million —for a new practice facility
, which has been a high priority for Smart.
During the last few weeks, Smart also turned down Marquette, which was set to pay Buzz Williams close to $3 million and presumably could have/would have offered Smart at least that much.
If Smart’s proven anything, it’s that he’s not chasing dollars and won’t jump to a bigger school just to say he’s at a bigger school.
There are no indications Smart is interested in the Missouri job at this point. Now, if John Calipari or Billy Donovan were to jump to the NBA, or perhaps even if Tom Izzo joined his buddy Flip Saunders with the Minnesota Timberwolves, there’s a greater chance he’d be tempted to leave VCU.
Among other possible candidates, former Pittsburgh and UCLA coach Ben Howland was rumored to be very interested in the Marquette job. Currently unemployed, he wants to get back into coaching, but his people have kept quiet about the Missouri opening.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Tech’s Michael White, who was in talks to become Tennessee’s coach before talks broke down, is on the recruiting trail this week.
As for Floyd, UTEP athletic director Bob Stull told The Star on Wednesday that Floyd is recruiting and has not been contacted by Missouri for permission to speak with him.