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Search continues for next Missouri men's basketball coach

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | 7:16 p.m. CDT; updated 8:18 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 3, 2011

COLUMBIA — When Matt Painter announced on Wednesday that he would return to Purdue, Missouri crossed one name off its list of potential replacements for former men's basketball coach Mike Anderson.

Although MU athletics director Mike Alden and the search committee will not release an official list of candidates, the Missourian has compiled a list of potential replacements:

Brad Stevens of Butler has coached the Bulldogs to a 116-24 record over the past four seasons. His team plays next on Saturday against Shaka Smart's VCU Rams in the Final Four. Stevens, 34, has led his team to the Final Four for the past two years, and it lost to Duke 61-59 in the NCAA championship game in 2010.

Stevens has been questioned about coaching vacancies at other schools, but he reaffirmed his commitment to Butler in the Indianapolis Star. Butler athletics director Barry Collier told USA Today that he is aware that Stevens is getting a lot of national attention, and he said that he would sign the coach to a lifetime contract if he could.

Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth University has led his Rams on to the Final Four in this year’s NCAA Tournament. They defeated Kansas by a score of 71-61 on Sunday, and will face Butler in the Final Four. Smart has coached VCU for two years, and his team finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association with a record of 21-10.

After this year’s successful NCAA Tournament run, Smart will be a top priority on other programs coaching searches. He is a native of Wisconsin, so has ties to the Midwest.

Scott Sutton of Oral Roberts is the son of former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton and has coached the Golden Eagles since 1999. Under Sutton, the team has a 223-155 record and has reached the NCAA tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Sutton is the all-time coaching wins leader at Oral Roberts, and his team has defeated major programs in his time there, including Georgetown, Missouri, Stanford, and USC.

Sutton was a candidate for the open coaching position at Bradley earlier this month, and he has also been rumored to be interested in the Missouri job. He told the Tulsa World on Friday that he will not comment on other coaching jobs.

Ben Jacobsen of Northern Iowa has led his Panthers to an overall record of 109-57 over the past five seasons. He has won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament twice and beat Kansas in the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament. This year, he led Northern Iowa to a 20-14 record.

Jacobson renewed his contract with Northern Iowa in March 2010. The contract was for $450,000 per year with annual $25,000 increases, so if he were to move to a bigger program like Missouri he would probably see a substantial raise.

Chris Mack of Xavier has led his team to the NCAA tournament in each of his two years as head coach. In his first season at Xavier, Mack coached his team to a 26-9 record and a Sweet 16 appearance. In 2010-2011, the Musketeers finished 24-8.

Mack is an alumnus of Xavier and played for the Musketeer basketball team. He has strong ties to Ohio.

Russ Springmann has spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach at Texas under Rick Barnes. In each of those seasons, Texas qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Before becoming an assistant, Springmann spent three seasons supervising the film exchange process and assisting in on-campus recruiting at Texas, and before that he spent two seasons as the strength and conditioning coach at Florida.

Springmann, arguably one of the top assistants in the Big 12, and he helped recruit 11 McDonald’s All-Americans in his time at Texas. However, MU Athletics Director Mike Alden might be hesitant to hire an assistant coach after things turned out with the last assistant coach he hired: Quin Snyder, an assistant at Duke before signing on with the Tigers.

Dave Rose has a 159-45 record in six seasons as coach at Brigham Young University. He started at BYU in 1997 as an assistant coach, a position he held for eight seasons before becoming head coach in 2005. Since becoming head coach, Rose has led BYU to a 159-45 record. In the 2010-2011 season, the Cougars went 32-5 and lost to Florida in the Sweet 16.

On Tuesday, Rose told the Desert News that he is not interested in the head coaching job at Oklahoma. The report also said that BYU is preparing to offer Rose a new contract.

Mick Cronin of Cincinnati has done well rebuilding the school's basketball program since he took over in 2006. He has an overall record of 87-77 at Cincinnati, and in his first year with the team, the Bearcats went 11-19. But this season, the team had a 26-9 record and defeated Missouri in the round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Connecticut.

Cronin told the Cincinnati Enquirer that his school must renew its commitment and financial obligations to its basketball program. He is rumored to be working with school officials about a renegotiation of his contract, and he said that he knows that his team is at a financial disadvantage compared to other Big East teams. He said that he is not offering an ultimatum, but that he hopes the school can increase its support for the basketball program.

Gregg Marshall has been the Wichita State coach since 2007, and his team has an 81-54 record in four seasons. Before Wichita State, Marshall coached at Winthrop University in South Carolina. At Winthrop, his team went 194-83 in nine seasons. This season, Wichita State finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference and will face Alabama in the NIT championship game on Thursday.

Marshall lived on the East Coast for most of his life before taking the job at Wichita State. The Dallas Morning News reported that it thinks Marshall is a candidate for the Oklahoma and Missouri jobs, and Marshall told the Hutchinson News in Hutchinson, Kan., that though his sole focus right now is the NIT championship, he is not opposed to listening if another team approaches him about a job.

Mark Fox of Georgia was on Alden's list of candidates before Missouri hired Mike Anderson in 2006. At the time, Fox coached Nevada, where he went 123-43 in five seasons. Since taking over Georgia before the 2009-2010 season, Fox has led the Bulldogs to a 35-29 record.

Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity told the Athens Banner-Herald that several schools with job openings have contacted him about speaking with Fox, but that Fox told him that he is not returning calls. Such comments make a move to Missouri unlikely. Fox’s current contract with Georgia is worth $1.3 million per year and runs through 2015. 

Two coaches that appeared on the Missourian's original list of candidates are now off the table. Cuonzo Martin, formerly of Missouri State, signed a contract worth $1.3 million per year for five years with Tennessee. Brian Gregory left Dayton and signed a six year contract worth $1 million per year at Georgia Tech.


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