Updated: 03/26/2013 10:35 AM KSTP.com By: Chris Long
The search to replace ousted Gophers head basketball Tubby Smith has started. There could be a new coach within a week.
On Monday, the University of Minnesota released a statement announcing Smith "has been relieved of his coaching duties, effective immediately. A national search for the 17th men’s head basketball coach in the history of the Golden Gopher program is ongoing."
The statement included comments from Smith.
“I want to thank the University of Minnesota and the people of Minnesota for giving me the opportunity to lead the Golden Gopher basketball program for six years,” said Smith in the statement. “Our staff did things the right way and will leave knowing that the program is in far better shape than when we arrived. The people of the State of Minnesota embraced Donna and me from the beginning and we will always be grateful.”
Gopher Athletics Director Norwood Teague was also quoted.
“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 in the statement. “We are grateful to Tubby and his entire staff for their hard work and dedication to this University, our students and the entire Minnesota community. We wish Tubby, Donna and the entire staff well.”
The firing comes less than 24 hours after the Minnesota Gophers were bounced out of the NCAA basketball tournament in a 78-64 defeat to the Florida Gators Sunday.
In six years as coach, Smith finished with a 124-81 overall record, but he was just 46-62 in conference. Smith's teams never finished above .500 in conference, nor did they ever place higher than sixth.
The Gophers made three NCAA tournament appearances under Smith. They beat UCLA this year before losing on Sunday.
Smith was announced as the 16th head basketball coach of the Minnesota Golden Gophers Men’s Basketball program on March 23, 2007. He arrived from Kentucky, immediately ramping up expectations for a team that had been buried by an academic cheating scandal.
Smith's buyout is $2.5 million.
That angers Republican State Representative Bob Barrett who says while the payout does not directly come from the state's general fund, it will impact taxpayers as the University asks lawmakers for tens of millions of dollars to avoid raising tuition.