On behalf of the University of Kentucky, I'd like to express sincere appreciation to Tubby Smith, his family and his staff. Tubby has always put a priority on the growth of the student-athlete while representing the Commonwealth with class, and we thank him for that. We wish him the very best at the University of Minnesota. They are getting a solid coach and a great person.
Our focus now is on finding the best possible person to lead the winningest program in college basketball history. President Todd has asked me to lead the search. Our strategy does not involve a search committee. Obviously, I will utilize the opinions of experts in this business. We will also lean on people who understand and are committed to the success of Kentucky basketball.
This search will be exhaustive, comprehensive and focused. Throughout that time, I will keep Dr. Todd informed during the process.
As you know, Coach Smith signed two players last fall. Those young men now have something to deal with in that the coach they signed with is no longer at the university to which they made their commitment. We have to be sensitive to them and stay in constant communication with them and their families.
We also have some scholarships still available for next season and have been pursuing individuals for those scholarships. It is our hope that any young man interested in playing at the University of Kentucky before Coach Smith decided to leave would wait until a new coach is in place before making any final decisions about their college future.
Kentucky holds a special place in college basketball. We have the best facilities and tradition in the sport, but most importantly, UK has a fan base which for decades has committed immense financial and emotional resources into Wildcat basketball. It truly is the Big Blue Nation, and it is what sets the University of Kentucky's basketball program apart from every other school.
I'm confident we can find the right person to embrace this tradition and lead Kentucky basketball into the future.
Statement by Lee Todd, President, University of Kentucky:
I greatly appreciate the service Tubby Smith has given to this university. He is among the best as a coach and has represented this university with class and professionalism. Tubby and Donna will also be greatly missed as members of this community to which they have given so much. I wish him every success, except if they ever play us, in this new chapter in his coaching career.
Mitch Barnhart and I have talked extensively about the process for hiring a new coach of Kentucky basketball. Mitch has a proven track record of bringing quality coaches to Kentucky that have immediate success and positive impact. I have every confidence in his ability to hire the right person for Kentucky and I am excited about moving our program forward.