Kentucky's Tubby Smith will be the University of Minnesota's new basketball coach, a Minnesota school official said Thursday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Minnesota had not yet announced the hire. The Gophers fired coach Dan Monson in November.
Smith met with the Kentucky players earlier Thursday, said basketball spokesman Scott Stricklin.
Stricklin said he didn't know what Smith told the players and had no further comment.
The news was first reported by ESPN.com and SI.com.
The Wildcats went 22-12 this season and made it to the NCAA tournament, but lost the first weekend. Kentucky hasn't been to the Final Four since 1998, and the program has lost 10 or more games in a season five times under Smith - more than any other coach.
Smith will take over a Minnesota program that struggled for years under Monson, who was hired to rehabilitate the Gophers program after an academic scandal under former coach Clem Haskins. Monson cleaned up the program, but the Gophers didn't win.
Tubby To Be Introduced at Minnesota This Afternoon
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Tubby Smith is to be introduced this afternoon as the new head basketball coach of the University of Minnesota. Smith's departure was learned yesterday afternoon. U-K Athletics Director
Mitch Barnhart is now under pressure to find a successor for college basketball's winnigest program. Former U-K stars, many current college coaches and some names from the N-B-A are being heard.
Smith's departure leaves Wildcats in flux
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A decade toiling under the glare of one of college basketball's most exacting spotlights was enough for Tubby Smith.
Now, Kentucky must find a way to restore the program's luster while replacing a highly respected coach who grew tired of the high expectations and ever-present grumblings.
Smith left for Minnesota on Thursday, despite a 263-83 record in 10 seasons that included a national title. Despite the constant pressure to win, Smith said he's not leaving angry.
"I love the folks there," Smith told the Lexington Herald Leader in a story posted on its Web site Thursday night. "I appreciate everything they've done for me and my family. I mean, c'mon. A country boy like me coming to Lexington, Kentucky. It's amazing."
His departure was greeted with glee by some on the school's campus. Several cars driving by Memorial Coliseum - the team's practice gym - honked their horns at reporters and gave the thumb's down signal.
Athletics director Mitch Barnhart's short list to replace Smith could include some of college basketball's biggest names, including Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Florida's Billy Donovan and Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie.
Tubby Smith leaves Kentucky for Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - With Kentucky fans dogging him after another disappointing finish, Tubby Smith is bolting the bluegrass for Minnesota.
Smith will be introduced as the Golden Gophers' 16th coach at a noon press conference Friday, ending a 10-year tenure in Lexington that seemed to be in its final days even before Minnesota contacted him.
"You always want to be wanted," Smith told the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader in a story posted on its Web site Thursday night. "You know they have a need."
The Wildcats went 22-12 this season and made it to the NCAA tournament but lost to top-seeded Kansas in the second round, turning up the heat on the coach of college basketball's winningest program.
Smith led Kentucky to the national championship in his first season in 1998, but the Wildcats haven't been back to the Final Four since, their longest drought since the NCAA tournament began. The team has lost 10 or more games in a season five times under his watch, prompting the demanding fan base to nickname him "10-loss Tubby."
"On behalf of the University of Kentucky, I'd like to express sincere appreciation to Tubby Smith, his family and his staff," Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. "We wish him the very best at the University of Minnesota. They are getting a solid coach and a great person."
Kentucky searching for successor to Smith
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Coach Tubby Smith is leaving Kentucky after 10 years and one national championship to take the coaching job at Minnesota, Kentucky officials said Thursday.
"We wish him the very best at the University of Minnesota," Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement just hours after Smith departed on a plane for Minnesota.
"They are getting a solid coach and a great person."
Barnhart said his attention would turn to finding the "best possible person" to lead Kentucky - the winningest program in college basketball.
"I'm confident we can find the right person to embrace this tradition and lead Kentucky basketball into the future," Barnhart said.
Smith, 55, had a 263-83 record going into the 2006-07 season. The Wildcats finished 22-12 this season, losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Kansas. Smith's overall record at Tulsa, Georgia and Kentucky is 387-145.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)