COLUMBIA — Speculation that Missouri men's basketball coach Mike Anderson would be the top choice at Memphis to succeed John Calipari grew Monday when Kentucky received permission to talk to Calipari for its vacancy. Missouri athletics spokesman Dave Reiter, noting that Calipari hadn't yet taken the Kentucky job, said Monday evening that Memphis had not requested permission to talk to Anderson. Missouri officials want to increase Anderson's $850,000 annual salary to at least $1 million and extend his contract for five more years.
"We want Mike Anderson to be at the University of Missouri for a very long time," athletic director Mike Alden, who hired Anderson from Alabama-Birmingham in 2006 to replace Quin Snyder, said Monday night.
Anderson has been coy about his intentions. His name had been linked to several vacancies, including the top job in his home state of Alabama. But that position is off the table after the Crimson Tide on Friday lured Anthony Grant from Virginia Commonwealth.
Anderson's future could hinge on other coaching moves. If John Calipari leaves Memphis for Kentucky, Memphis might target Anderson. Alden denied reports from some Tennessee media that Memphis had sought his permission to talk to Anderson.
"Frankly, that flat-out never happened," Alden said during the weekly Tiger Talk radio broadcast.
Alden did not directly respond to a question by Tiger Radio Network play-by-play announcer Mike Kelly about whether Georgia, another prospective Anderson suitor, had contacted him.
Anderson takes part in Tiger Talk for much of the season until the final few weeks and did not participate in Monday night's broadcast.
Some of Memphis' key boosters met with Calipari on Monday. But one booster expects Calipari to go to Kentucky, though the person, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing negotiations, acknowledged the coach was torn between the two great opportunities.
The Wildcats had a short meeting at their practice gym Monday afternoon at the Joe Craft Center. Asked afterward if they had a new coach, senior Jared Carter said, "I think so." Asked if it was Calipari, Carter shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know."
Calipari met with Memphis players Monday morning.
"He told us he's going to keep us posted," Memphis freshman forward Wesley Witherspoon told WHBQ-TV in Memphis.
Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie on Friday, ready to move on after two frustrating seasons. Calipari has the top-rated recruiting class in the country, according to Rivals.com and Scout.com. However, his latest recruit 6-foot-10 DeMarcus Cousins committed verbally within the past month and could follow Calipari to Kentucky if the coach leaves.