Shaka Smart leaving for University of Texas

UPDATE: ESPN is reporting that Shaka Smart will be accepting a coaching position at University of Texas. After a 15 minute meeting with Smart players left with VCU spokespeople and couldn’t comment on the meeting.


 

Alonzo Small
Sports Editor

CT File Photo.

The rumor mill is swirling as “Smart Watch 2015” is in full swing. With no definitive response on Shaka Smart’s coaching future from him or his camp, the end of his coaching career at VCU is becoming a more concrete possibility.

University of Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson met with Smart earlier today. Smart called a team meeting for 8 p.m. soon after, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported. What will be discussed at the meeting is not yet clear.

It’s still just rumors.

VCU hasn’t confirmed whether a rumored meeting between Smart and VCU president Michael Rao took place on April 2 to discuss his future.

VCU hasn’t confirmed whether Smart has made a decision to leave for the University of Texas.

VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin has offered few comments, only stating that “nothing is a done deal,” and that Smart is still VCU’s head coach according to various media outlets.

With a preliminary deal in place that would more than double Smart’s current salary of $1.57 million. Texas is rumored to be offering Smart a deal $14-17 million dollars at $3.2 to $3.5 million a year—it may be an offer too good for Smart to turn down.

What we do know is Smart is 163-56 (.744 win percentage) in six seasons as VCU’s head coach. We know Smart has made five straight NCAA tournaments. We know about the Final Four. We know about this year’s Atlantic 10 conference championship win.

Early round exits and Final Four hangover have likely brought about concerns from some VCU loyalists on Smart’s pay scale — now it might not be enough to keep him. Still, win or lose, staying put or leaving, Smart’s paycheck should have never been a concern to the naysayers. With hindsight 20/20, it’s even more prevalent now.

It’s called appreciating what you have before it’s gone.

This year’s run by the men’s basketball program should have silenced the “Shaka’s paid too much” critics long before the possibility of leaving made those same doubters question his stance.

Look no further than an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament as a result of the team winning their first A-10 championship. Add the fact that the team did it without their best defensive player on the floor.

Smart knew Weber would be the best assistant coach he could ask for and that’s what Weber did and the team benefited from it. That coaching call alone should earn him praise.

The true measure of a head coach is how you get a team to respond to adversity. What Smart and company were able to pull off in the A-10 tournament may not have been surprising to some, but it was unexpected to others.

Smart should have been rewarded for that task.

Smart earned incentives the upwards of $116,000, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, with more compensation expected. Some of those areas of compensation are results of qualifying for the NCAA tournament, season tickets sales over $3,500, a sellout crowd of over 7,000 for home games at the Siegel Center and winning 20 or more games a season.

All of these feats bring money to VCU.

Many can and will oppose Smart’s worth to VCU but the man is a hot commodity year in and year out. The Texas saga is the latest installment in a series of big conference schools trying to court Smart for his coaching service.

Previously all have failed. Smart has been fighting job offers since 2011.

It’s commendable, but loyalty doesn’t pay the bills or earn you fan’s patience and trust forever. See Final Four hangover.

Whether or not Texas succeeds in putting the proverbial nail in the coffin on his coaching future at VCU is anybody’s guess at this point.

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