New athletic director Norwood Teague has not officially taken office at the University of Minnesota, but he’s already thinking about a contract extension for men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith.
Teague said Wednesday that he’d been involved with the process of hammering out an extension with retiring AD Joel Maturi – who has long campaigned for ensuring Smith’s future – and that the ‘U’ was “making progress.”
“I think we’re pretty far down the road on that and I’ve felt good about that, getting him solidified there and completing that process,” Teague said. “It’s not done yet but hopefully it’s something that will be done very soon.”
Smith has two years left in a seven-year contract that pays him $1.75 million annually. The high-profile coach has come under criticism for the team’s regular-season collapses in each of the past two years and for failing to coach the team to a post-season win for the first four seasons. But last year after a disappointing regular season, the Gophers made a momentous postseason run to the NIT final, losing to Stanford in the title game, a stretch that has boosted Smith’s stock among some.
Teague has gotten the reputation as an excellent judge and retainer of quality coaches from his years at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he hired basketball coaches Anthony Grant and Shaka Smart, and then retained Smart despite outside interest.