Former Gophers coach Tubby Smith is back in the college coaching ranks after a brief hiatus. He has agreed to take over as head men’s basketball coach at High Point University in North Carolina, said a person familiar with the situation.
Smith played for High Point from 1969-73 and was fired two weeks ago by Memphis. The person spoke to The Associated Press Monday on condition of anonymity because the school is not publicly discussing its coaching search.
The school has scheduled a news conference Tuesday on campus to introduce its new coach.
Smith was fired at Minnesota after a six-season run that ended in 2013 and had left Texas Tech for the job at Memphis.
It’s the seventh Division I head coaching job for the 66-year-old Smith and his fourth since 2013. He went 40-26 in two seasons with the Tigers, including 21-13 this season, but was fired amid dropping attendance and donations to the athletic department.
Smith was inducted into the High Point athletics hall of fame in 2016, and a banner honoring him hangs in the Panthers’ arena.
He replaces former North Carolina player Scott Cherry, who was fired after going 14-16 this season and 9-9 in the Big South. Since they moved to Division I in 1999, the Panthers have never reached the NCAA Tournament.
Smith and his wife donated $1 million toward the university’s planned on-campus basketball arena and conference center, and the basketball court will be named in honor of the Smith family.
Construction on the 4,500-seat Qubein Arena is scheduled to begin during the upcoming academic year with a planned opening in 2020.
Smith is 597-302 and won a national title with Kentucky in 1998. He came to Memphis two years ago as one of only two coaches to lead five different schools to the NCAA Tournament, but couldn’t make it six with the Tigers.
He also has worked at Tulsa, Georgia, Minnesota and Texas Tech during a head coaching career that began in 1991. After leading a team into every NCAA Tournament from 1994-2007, he has made the tournament just four times in the past 11 years — the last coming with the Red Raiders in 2016.