NCAA Tournament: Historic run may cost VCU its coach

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 3, 2011

By Nancy Armour
Associated Press
HOUSTON ó A captivating trip to the Final Four guaranteed this season will go down as perhaps the most memorable in the 42-year history of Virginia Commonwealth University.
The question on the minds of Rams fans in the days and maybe weeks ahead is whether it was a performance that propels coach Shaka Smart to a bigger job after just two years.
After Butler beat VCU 70-62 in a national semifinal Saturday night, the 33-year-old Smart spoke like a man making plans to prove the Ramsí performance wasnít a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but rather the start of a burgeoning program.
ěWeíre going to try to do this every year,î he said. ěItís not easy; thereís no question about it. In our program, weíre going to continue to build. This is my second year. You know, weíve got a lot of things that we still want to accomplish. This was a terrific run. Are we capable of doing it again? Sure. No question.î
Athletic director Norwood Teague said in a text message Sunday that neither North Carolina State nor Missouri, both looking for head coaches, have contacted him about talking to Smart.
Last week, Teague said he planned to sit down with Smart early this week and make an aggressive push to keep him on the Rams sideline.
Smartís situation is similar to the one that got him the VCU job. He replaced Anthony Grant, who had early success as a first-time head coach at VCU, got a huge raise and then an even bigger one ó the top job at Alabama.
When he left VCU, Grant was making nearly $900,000. Smart had a base salary of $325,000 this season and was due to make $640,000 in all.
The ceiling might be a tad higher now, but there are still limitations.
ěThere is a line we have to draw,î Teague said ěBut at the same time, they want to keep Shaka, too.î