This is Amelia Rayno's third season on the Gophers men's basketball beat. She learned college basketball in North Carolina (Go Tar Heels!), where fanhood is not an option. In 2010, she joined the Star Tribune after graduating from Boston's Emerson College, which sadly had no exciting D-I college hoops to latch onto. Amelia has also worked on the sports desk at the Boston Globe and interned at the Detroit News.

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Is Arkansas close to hiring Gophers' Tubby Smith?

Posted by: Amelia Rayno under College basketball Updated: March 14, 2011 - 8:06 PM

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Monday that the University of Arkansas, which fired John Pelphrey Sunday, has targeted Tubby Smith.

The report said Smith has had face-to-face contact with that school's officials and was "close" to leaving Minnesota to take the Arkansas gig. 

Update: During his weekly radio show Monday night, Smith said he expects to return to the university next season. He also said that a contract extension is in the works and should be completed soon. Smith, however, was not asked directly about the report linking him to the Arkansas job.

Well, it's March 14, also known as, "Where will Tubby go next? Day" in Minnesota.

The rumors aren't new. Smith has been connected to Oregon, Georgia Tech and Virginia in recent years. And each time, he's dismissed the offseason speculation and returned to coach the Gophers.

Smith has been working on an extension with the Gophers. His contract, which currently pays him $1.8 million per year, expires in 2014.

If Smith left the university, he wouldn't owe it a dime, per a provision in his contract. Also, Arkansas has the country's No. 7 recruiting class, according to ESPN.com. It features five-star point guard B.J. Young.

But I talked to a source close to the program who said Smith and his staff members met Monday afternoon to talk about junior college players they hope to evaluate before the end of the late signing period. The source also said Smith wouldn't use any other job as leverage in negotiations for his extension.

After his team's loss to Northwestern in the Big Ten tournament Thursday, Smith said he was excited about his future with the Gophers, as he continues to pursue an extension with the school.

Smith, however, has expressed his discontent with the university's lack of progress on a practice facility. The university hasn't attracted significant funds to build the $15 million facility he was promised in 2007, the year athletic director Joel Maturi hired him.

Arkansas doesn't have a practice facility. But the school uses the Bud Walton Arena, which opened in 1993 and was renovated in 2008. The university's basketball offices are housed in the arena, one of the largest in the country (19,200 capacity). And I've been told that Razorbacks boosters will spend big bucks on the right coach.

But Oregon had facilities and money. Ditto for Virginia and some of the other programs that went after Smith in the past. But he stayed.

And at this point (It's 5:20 p.m. Monday), I don't have anything concrete that suggests he'll leave.

But stay tuned.

 

 

 

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