MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Anthony Grant has been hired as
Alabama's coach after three successful years with Virginia
Commonwealth, leaving a school with no football program to take
over one where the gridiron reigns.
Alabama athletic director Mal Moore told The Associated Press on
Friday evening that a deal had been reached. A formal agreement is
expected to be signed later in the night.
"We have agreed. We haven't signed the documents yet," Moore
said, adding that he expected to receive them shortly. Grant also
said in a text message that he and Alabama had agreed "in
principle" to the deal.
The 42-year-old Grant, a former Florida assistant, led VCU to
two NCAA tournaments in three seasons. He becomes the most
prominent black coach hired at Alabama and the first in the two
major sports, football and men's basketball.
Moore said Grant had already informed his team and VCU officials
of his decision.
The hiring was first reported by The Birmingham News and
Moore and executive athletic director Dave Hart interviewed
Grant in Richmond last weekend. He spent Wednesday touring
Alabama's campus and meeting with other university officials, then
took nearly two days to weigh his options.
Grant replaces Mark Gottfried, who resigned under pressure from
his alma mater in midseason with the team on its way to missing the
postseason for the third straight year.
Grant has been an instant success - and hot commodity - as a
head coach. After helping Billy Donovan win a national championship
with the Gators, he guided VCU to three straight Colonial Athletic
Association regular-season titles. His first season was highlighted
by a victory over Duke in the NCAA tournament.
The Rams nearly pulled off a second-round encore before losing
to Pittsburgh in overtime. Grant was targeted by Florida to return
after that debut season when Donovan left for the NBA's Orlando
Magic, but Donovan changed his mind and came back.
Grant accepted the Alabama job a few hours after Donovan issued
a statement saying he was staying put amid rumors that he would
replace the ousted Billy Gillispie at Kentucky.
VCU was paying Grant a base salary of $400,000, with bonuses and
incentives that boosted his pay to about $850,000.
The Rams' season ended with a 65-64 loss to UCLA in the opening
round of the NCAA tournament. Alabama finished 18-14 and lost to
Tennessee in the second round of the Southeastern conference
AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz Jr. in Martinsville, Va., contributed
to this report.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)