Maturi Supports Smith Contract Extension
Joel Maturi told Sports Headliners earlier this week he hopes an announcement will come soon regarding a contract extension for Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith. The Gophers athletic director said University of Minnesota attorney Mark Rotenberg is talking with Smith’s agent, Ricky Lefft.
Smith’s contract has two years remaining and an extension has been speculated upon for about a year. Discussions have been on and off over the last 12 months with the two sides unable to reach a deal, although neither Smith nor the University has publicly detailed the differences.
Smith said yesterday at a season-ending news conference he doesn’t expect an agreement to be reached until after a new athletic director is hired in May or June. “I am confident we’ll get it done,” he said.
Maturi, who is leaving his position at the end of June, has talked with Smith about his contract and so too has new University president Eric Kaler. “He’s (Kaler) comfortable with me being here,” Smith said.
Maturi hired Smith in 2007, thinks highly of him and wants him to stay with the Gophers. Maturi has no doubt provided a favorable report on the coach to Kaler.
“I think it’s (the contract extension) the right thing to do,” Maturi said. “I’ve always felt good about Tubby Smith. I think he’s the right fit for Minnesota.”
Smith reportedly earns close to $2 million on his present deal, and by achieving certain goals in his contract can earn more. His five year stay at Minnesota has been criticized by some fans and media. In addition to off-court problems involving the basketball program, his Big Ten record is 14 games below .500. He’s coached two teams to the NCAA tournament and this spring led the Gophers to second place in the National Invitation Tournament.
Smith’s name has often been rumored with other college openings including South Carolina last month. His agent is based in that state but the Gamecocks hired Kansas State coach Frank Martin for their opening.