Around college basketball: Minnesota fires Smith, wants ‘fresh set of eyes’
Minnesota fired Tubby Smith yesterday, cutting ties with the veteran coach one day after the Golden Gophers lost to Florida in the NCAA Tournament.
Athletic director Norwood Teague, who announced the decision, said it was time for a “fresh set of eyes” on the program.
Smith was 124-81 (.605) in six seasons at Minnesota, helping to bring the program back to respectability and ramping up expectations for a team hit hard by an academic cheating scandal.
Smith won 20 games five times, but he went just 46-62 in Big Ten play and never finished higher than sixth. The Gophers made three NCAA Tournament appearances under Smith. They beat UCLA this year before losing on Sunday.
“Tubby has had a long and distinguished career, and we feel it’s time for a fresh set of eyes for our student-athletes and our program in general,” Teague said.
Smith was welcomed with wild enthusiasm when he left Kentucky in 2007, hailed as the savior to a program that former coach Dan Monson was never able to raise out of the abyss created by an academic fraud scandal that wiped out the team’s Final Four appearance in 1997.
Smith won 20 games his first season and took the team to the NCAA Tournament the following year.
The Gophers made the tournament again in 2010.
Smith’s Gophers never finished with a Big Ten record above .500 and finished in seventh place or worse four times in his six seasons.
LAST NIGHT’S NIT HIGHLIGHTS
Providence 77, Robert Morris 68: Vincent Council scored seven of his 12 points in the closing 5:21, including a key three-point play off his only basket of the game, to lift host Providence (19-14) over Robert Morris (24-11) in an NIT second–round game. LaDontae Henton led Providence with 21 points. BYU 90, Mercer 71: Brandon Davies had 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead host Brigham Young (23-11) over Mercer (24-12).
South Alabama hired Butler associate head coach Matthew Graves as its coach. He was a Butler assistant for nine seasons and was elevated to associate head coach in 2010.