COLUMBIA — Missouri men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson seemed a little defensive.
At a press conference Sunday before the team's season-ending banquet, Anderson addressed his decision to decline a offer to coach at the University of Oregon. Joe Walljasper, the sports editor of the Columbia Tribune, posed a simple question.
Would there be any value in addressing the rumors that started on Wednesday linking him to the coaching job at Oregon when they developed, rather than waiting until Saturday evening to issue a statement?
Anderson, who had answered every question until then in his usual quiet and unwavering tone, stepped to the side of the podium. Staring directly at the editor, his voice rose.
“I don’t know anything about that, I haven’t talked to anybody,” Anderson said. “So you could say the University of Hawaii, man, they want to offer you $5 million, you could put that on the board and that stuff would come back here.”
Then Anderson asked his own question.
“Now would you want me to address that?” Anderson said.
For the past few days, Anderson had been linked to the coaching vacancy at Oregon. Reports said Anderson had a meeting with former Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny in a hotel in El Paso, Texas, where Anderson had been participating in Nolan Richardson’s charity golf tournament. Reports said ther has been a $3 million contract offer. And for the past few days, there was no response from Anderson to the media or other school officials. It wasn’t until late Saturday night that Anderson commented on the situation, saying in a release he had decided to stay at Missouri.
Before anyone could respond to Anderson's question, he lowered his voice to a little louder than a whisper.
“I don’t read (rumors), I don’t look at all that stuff. So when you guys tell me something, it’s news to me,” Anderson said. “So of course when it comes to me, I address it.”
For the second straight year, Anderson decided to listen to offers to coach at other schools. After Anderson’s Elite Eight run two seasons ago, Georgia had offered the coach a contract reportedly worth $2 million per year. However, Anderson declined and signed a seven-year contract extension worth $1.55 million a year to stay at Missouri.
“People are going to come and inquire about your program, and to me I think that’s a compliment,” Anderson said. “And the Oregon situation … that to me, all it did was confirm what I said, that our program is one that a lot of people want.”
Despite last year's contract extension, Anderson said he will listen to offers from other schools if he feels it is in the best interest of his family. Anderson said his decision to listen to other offers won't create a problem between him and Missouri athletic director Mike Alden. Instead, he claimed that Alden and Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton have been supportive of him throughout the whole process.
“I don’t think there will be any backlash,” Anderson said. “That’s the decision Mike Anderson decided to make, and I did it with my family in mind.”
Anderson said he waited until Saturday to make his decision on Oregon's offer so that he could talk it over with his wife, who was in Columbia. Anderson didn't comment on the details of the offer.
“I had a conversation, got some information, and at the end of the day, you know what, we are on to something very special here,” Anderson said.
Anderson will be returning to what could be one of his most talented Missouri teams. Anderson is bringing in a recruiting class that he said is his most talented group. The class includes two junior college first team All-Americans and two high school recruits that ranked in the top 100 by ESPN.com. The class was ranked No. 7 by USA Today and No. 11 by ESPN.com. Anderson will also have four juniors and a senior who have all played major minutes to provide experience.
"I'm just excited, and I'm happy to be the head coach at the University of Missouri," Anderson said. "And I think more than anything else, you want to be happy, that's the key."