The University of Oregon is pursuing Missouri men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson for its open coaching position.
Missouri team spokesman Dave Reiter confirmed Friday morning that Oregon asked for permission to speak with Anderson “late last night” and Missouri granted that permission. Asked, via text message, if Anderson will make a statement today, Reiter said, “If he wants to, he will.” An interview request for Anderson was denied, and a phone message left for Anderson's agent, Memphis-based Jimmy Sexton, was not returned. Chad Moller, Missouri's assistant athletic director for media relations, said via e-mail that athletic director Mike Alden is unavailable to comment.
The (Portland) Oregonian and the (Eugene, Oregon) Register-Guard reported Friday morning that former Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny, who is leading the coaching search, met with Anderson on Thursday in El Paso, Texas, where Anderson is participating in the Nolan Richardson Charity Golf Tournament.
The Register-Guard report, citing an unidentified source, said Oregon’s interest was reciprocated by Anderson. The Oregonian reported that Kilkenny, without Anderson, flew on a private jet out of El Paso at 1:40 p.m. Friday headed for St. Louis. Oregon Senior Associate Athletic Director Joe Giansante told the Register-Guard that Kilkenny is scheduled to attend a family wedding in St. Louis.
A freelance reporter working for The Oregonian in El Paso reported that Anderson would not comment on the Oregon search when the reporter encountered Anderson in the clubhouse at the Fort Bliss Underwood Golf Complex at 1:15 p.m Friday.
Kilkenny flew to El Paso from New York on Thursday afternoon and checked into a hotel across the street from Anderson, the Oregonian reported.
After Missouri’s surprising Elite Eight run last season, Georgia pursued Anderson and was rumored to have offered him more than $2 million per year. A few days later, Anderson signed a 7-year extension worth a guaranteed $1.55 million per year, which nearly doubled his original contract signed in 2006.
Reports earlier in the week said Oregon, supported financially by alumnus and Nike founder Phil Knight, was set to offer Anderson $3 million annually, which would equal the contract of Kansas' Bill Self. Kentucky coach John Calipari is the nation's highest paid coach, earning an estimated $4 million annually. Another university would have to pay Missouri $550,000 to buy out Anderson's contract.
After Missouri’s second straight NCAA Tournament appearance this year, the chance that Anderson would leave Missouri seems less likely than after last season. On Wednesday, Anderson finalized a six-man recruiting class ranked in the top 10 nationally by some Web sites.
Anderson has a personal connection to two of Missouri’s recruits – Matt and Phil Pressey – who are the sons of Anderson’s college roommate and former NBA player Paul Pressey. If Anderson goes to Oregon, Missouri’s recruits could go with him without having to sit out a year. Oregon has two available scholarships for next season.
Oregon fired Ernie Kent after 13 seasons as coach. Kent, an Oregon alumnus, was the school's winningest coach, but Oregon went 24-39 over the past two seasons.