COLUMBIA — The speculation rose, then fell, then rose again.
In early March, Mike Anderson told the Columbia Tribune his intentions to remain the head coach of the Missouri men’s basketball team. On Sunday, he reiterated his commitment.
After ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb initially dropped Anderson’s name as a possible replacement for Arkansas men’s basketball coach John Pelphrey, Anderson chose not to directly comment on the situation during a press conference on March 3. He made his stance clear one day later.
“I plan on being at Missouri for a long time, retire here,” Anderson told the Tribune. “I’m happy. I think that’s the most important thing. It’s always about being happy.”
On Sunday, before Anderson’s team learned of its No. 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament, news broke that Pelphrey — who had been under contract with Arkansas until 2014 — was released.
According to a release on the Razorbacks’ basketball website, Arkansas is beginning a national search for a new coach immediately.
Anderson’s name began flying around again.
ESPN.com and other media outlets reported Arkansas intends to pursue Anderson as Pelphrey’s replacement. Anderson has ties with Arkansas. He coached there as an assistant for 17 seasons under his mentor Nolan Richardson. Anderson has also been pursued in the past. He has previously declined offers from Georgia and Oregon.
But on Sunday, Anderson said his intention is to remain at Missouri.
“It seems like this is the road we go down every single year,” Anderson said. “I’ve always stated, you know, I’m a Missouri Tiger. We are looking forward to the NCAA Tournament."
MU Director of Athletics Mike Alden said he has no reason not to believe the coach.
"Mike’s always been straightforward and committed to everything we’re trying to do at Mizzou," Alden said. "So it doesn’t surprise me that he would come out and talk about his commitment to the program and to the future of what we’re trying to do, because that’s who he is as a person."
When asked if he expects to have the same basketball coach next season, Alden said he has never considered Anderson not being on the sideline.
“That’s an interesting question because I’ve never thought otherwise," Alden said. "We have a great working relationship and we have a great program. We have a lot of plans for the future. Just looking forward to, now, seeing where we are going to the NCAA Tournament."
And for the players on Anderson's NCAA Tournament-bound team? When asked if he had addressed his players about the Arkansas hype, Anderson said he has.
"They know me," Anderson said. "I think that’s where the trust comes in.”