Smart staying at VCU after Final Four run
RICHMOND, VA. Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart is staying with the Rams after leading them on a surprising Final Four run.
The school said Monday that Smart has agreed to a new eight-year contract at VCU. Details of that deal will be released once the contract is signed.
“True to form, Coach Smart’s primary concerns were about his players, coaches and the overall support of the basketball program,” VCU athletic director Norwood Teague said in a statement. “We are honored that he has decided to stay a VCU Ram. He exemplifies everything that is right about college athletics, and VCU is ecstatic about the future under his leadership.”
The second-year coach, a native of Oregon, Wis., led VCU from one of the “First Four” games in the NCAA tournament to upsets of prominent programs including Georgetown, Purdue and Kansas to reach the Final Four. VCU
(28-12) became only the third No. 11 seed to get that far, losing to Butler, 70-62, in Saturday’s national semifinals.
Making that run even more impressive: Four of the Rams’ five tournament wins came by double-digit margins, including the 71-61 win against the top-seeded Jayhawks for the Southwest Regional championship.
That run had Smart frequently mentioned for other coaching vacancies. Team spokesman Scott Day said North Carolina State had recently offered Smart the job to replace Sidney Lowe, who resigned in March.
“I’m extremely grateful for the belief that (VCU president Michael Rao) and Norwood Teague have shown and continue to show in our coaching staff and basketball program,” Smart said in a statement.
“Their support, in addition to the bright future that our student-athletes possess, makes VCU a very special place for me to be the head basketball coach. I’m very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for both our program and our university.”
Smart, who turns 34 on Friday, has a 55-21 record at VCU and led the Rams to the CBI championship in his first year. The 55 wins are the most for any two-year span in program history and it marked the first year VCU won more than one game in the NCAA tournament.
The school has said Smart had a base salary of $325,000 this season and was due to make $640,000 in all due to performance bonuses.