UPDATE: Missouri basketball's Haith 'front-runner' for Tulsa job

Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 3:06 p.m. CDT; updated 1:40 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 21, 2014
Missouri coach Frank Haith observes his team during first half action against Southern Miss.

This story has been updated to include information from the Missouri athletics department and reports from national media outlets.

COLUMBIA – Missouri men's basketball coach Frank Haith boarded a charter plane at Columbia Regional Airport en route to Tulsa, Okla., on Thursday afternoon after Missouri gave the University of Tulsa permission to talk to Haith about its head coaching vacancy.

Despite several media reports that Haith and Tulsa have agreed to a contract, Missouri associate athletic director Chad Moller told the Missourian that so far, the two parties are only in discussions.

"That's all we know at this point," Moller said in a text message.

Bill Haisten of Tulsa World reported Thursday that Haith is a "very solid front-runner" for the position and that Haith was expected to meet Thursday with Tulsa Univesity President Steadman Upham and athletics director Derrick Gragg.

Gragg has Missouri ties, having worked in the university athletics department as a the director of compliance and operations from 1995 to 1997.

About a half-hour after Haith boarded the plane, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported that Haith and Tulsa had reached a verbal agreement.

Earlier in the day, Gary Parrish of reported Haith was involved in Tulsa's coaching search, which began April 4 when Danny Manning left for Wake Forest.

Gragg traveled to Dallas for the Final Four to screen head coaching candidates, Haisten said.

Haith just completed his third year of a six-year contract with Missouri. He led the Tigers to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013, losing in the first round both times.

Missouri finished 23-12 this season and settled for the National Invitation Tournament, where it was eliminated in the second round by Southern Mississippi. 

Haith has a $500,000 buyout in the contract he signed with Missouri in 2011. 

Eric Hollier, assistant athletic media relations director at Tulsa, declined to comment about Haith.

"The University of Tulsa will not discuss nor confirm any possible candidates for the position of head basketball coach," Hollier said in an email to the Missourian.

Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.

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