The Coaching Search

The University of Virginia is building a new basketball arena, the John Paul Jones Arena. Here is a movie of what the inside of the arena will look like when it’s finished. Costing nearly $130 million (double the construction cost of the beautiful Mizzou Arena on the campus of the University of Missouri), the 15,000 seat arena’s construction is 100% funded through private sources.

But the Cavaliers need a new coach. At the end of the just-ended basketball season, coach Pete Gillen stepped down following a last-place finish in the ACC. The new arena – and the new revenue streams that it will create – is expected to bring in plenty of pecuniary fodder to bring in a big name coach. But the big names are apparently balking. Andy Katz reported that Tubby Smith of Kentucky has no interest in the job. Neither does Rick Barnes of Texas. But the search is still on-going and people can change their minds.

But what does it take to bring in a big dog? Here’s what Tubby reportedly makes at UK:

Smith, 53, has six years left on a $21 million, eight-year contract, one of the most lucrative in college basketball. He also gets a two-year extension at about $2.3 million per year if Kentucky reaches the Final Four, a $1.5 million bonus if he stays through April 2007 and a $2.5 million bonus if he stays through 2011, Stricklin said.

A new arena surely helps pay the bills, but going from Kentucky or Texas to Virginia would not be a lateral or an upward move. That’s not to say that UVa couldn’t pull a big-time coaching hire, but it will be a tough sell to bring in established coaches from established (and lucrative jobs) in power conferences.

Whoever is brought in, there’s going to be pressure to win now, especially once the new arena opens. In the rugged ACC, that’s a tough thing to do. A more-established coach would have a better time handling this pressure than someone with no head-coaching experience (like Quin Snyder when he was hired at Missouri) or really young coach without major-college head coaching experience (like Jeff Capel). This doesn’t mean that a young and inexperienced coach couldn’t do well at UVa, but the pressure to win at such a school makes it that much more difficult. But can they lure Tubby Ball to UVa?

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Author: Phil Miller

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