Tubby Smith is done at Minnesota.
Smith, who has spent the past six seasons with the Gophers, was fired on Monday afternoon, sources told CBSSports.com. His tenure ends with a 124-81 overall mark and a 46-62 record in Big Ten play. The school released a statement on Monday afternoon confirming the news.
Smith, 61, won his first NCAA tournament game at the school this past week against UCLA, but new athletic director Norwood Teague -- who along with associate AD Mike Ellis was responsible for hiring Shaka Smart at his last stop -- decided to go in a different direction and buy out the remaining years of his contract.
“Tubby has had a long and distinguished career and we feel it's time for a fresh set of eyes for our student-athletes and our program in general,” Teague said in a statement released on Monday afternoon. “We are grateful to Tubby and his entire staff for their hard work and dedication to this University, our students and the entire Minnesota community. We wish Tubby, Donna and the entire staff well.”
Smith made the NCAA tournament in three of his six seasons at Minnesota and was knocked out in the first round in both 2009 and 2010. The team started off 15-1 this season, but lost 12 of its last 18 games and barely made the NCAA tournament as an 11-seed. Smith arrived in 2007 from Kentucky, where the fan base grew frustrated in the latter years of his tenure due to early exits and a lack of success on the recruiting trail. Smith won the national title in 1998 -- his first season as a head coach in Lexington.
There will be those who say that Minnesota should be content going to an NCAA tournament every other year, but Teague and Ellis clearly want to take this program to the next level -- and hire someone that fits their style. That's exactly what happened with Smart and VCU.
Expect Teague to take a shot at persuading Smart to rejoin him, but it's a longshot. Also expect names such as former Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders to be tossed around, but I'd be surprised if these guys don't delve into the coaching ranks. Remember, the Teague-Ellis duo is as familiar with college coaches as any administrative duo in the nation after starting up the Villa 7 years ago. Look for these guys to also see if Marquette coach Buzz Williams, who was involved with Villa 7, is interested in making a move.