Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith and the University of Minnesota have agreed on a long-anticipated contract extension, the school announced Monday, ending more than a year of speculation about when and if the deal would come.
Smith, who had two years left on his current contract, received a three-year extension through the 2016-17 season. A U of M spokesperson said terms of the new contract were not immediately available. Smith's old deal paid him about $1.75 million per year in base salary and supplemental compensation. The buyout for the school under the previous deal, if it was to fire Smith without a violation of the terms of the contract, went down to $1.5 million May 1.
"There is no revolutionary change here in the contract," said Mark Rotenberg, the university's general counsel.
Smith was not available for comment beyond what he said in a news release, which read in part: "We are excited about the extension and know that the University of Minnesota is the right place for us. I am focused on reaching our full potential as a program. That is why we came here five years ago and it is still our goal."
Talk of an extension has lingered since the end of the 2010-11 season, when the university and Smith hinted it was imminent. When new athletic director Norwood Teague took over for Joel Maturi in June, the extension was again on the table but had to be renegotiated. Teague said the two sides were just hammering out the details.
"Tubby took over our program at a difficult time and quickly got it headed back in the right direction," Teague said in a statement. "I look forward to working with Coach Smith into the future to help lift Gopher basketball to even greater heights."
Smith came to Minnesota in 2007 with a big-time reputation after leading Kentucky to the NCAA title in 1998, but he has failed so far to approach the same level of success with the Gophers. Smith has a 103-68 overall record in five seasons at Minnesota, but his teams are 38-52 in regular-season Big Ten play and have yet to win an NCAA tournament game in two appearances.
Last season, the Gophers went 6-12 in the Big Ten, but finished with 23 victories after getting to the championship game of the NIT. With Trevor Mbakwe returning from injury to join a solid core of young players, the Gophers have cracked multiple early top-25 polls for the upcoming season.
Smith, 61, has expressed his desire to stay in Minnesota and has dismissed rumors of schools with openings being interested in hiring him. Last season there were reports that his NIT run had piqued the interest of Tulsa and South Carolina, but Smith seemed confident Minnesota would extend him.