By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - When official word was released that the University of Minnesota had cut ties with men's basketball coach Tubby Smith, the only nod that was given towards a replacement was a quote that said the search for a replacement was "ongoing." Monday afternoon, Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague met the media and shared a few more details in regards to the coaching change and what we can expect from the search to find a Tubby Smith's successor.
Teague mentioned that he had had a conversation with Tubby Smith early Monday afternoon regarding the new direction that the University had opted to head stating that the decision was based on "an evaluation of the overall body of work" and not just the results from this season.
"I felt by far that this was the best decision we could make right now," Teague said in regards to the move.
"I don't think he was totally surprised," Teague said of his conversation with Tubby. "He was very gracious. I could see the disappointment in his eyes and that's hard to tell Tubby. He's a great human being."
The buyout clause in Tubby's contract netted him $2.5M for the extent of the contract but post season bonuses, severance packages and other bonuses will reportedly push Smith's final separation check nearer to $3.35M.
"Anytime you spend money for buyouts it bothers me," Teague continued. "But I hope there are fans that view this one as an investment rather than an expenditure."
For the time being, Teague and his senior staff will handle basketball operations until a new coach is named. As for that new coach, Teague said that the University will not be hiring an independent search committee but would be conducting the search internally.
"I don't want to limit us to what we're going to look for," Teague insisted. "I want somebody here who is going to recruit at the highest level, develop kids on and off the floor and manage and build the program…It's more about fit and what I feel like that person brings to the table."
Reading between the lines, it would make sense that some of these characteristics were the flaws that led to Tubby's dismissal.
"I refuse to believe that we cannot grow as a program and that we cannot be great as a program," Teague continued. "I feel like if we brought someone in who has a fresh approach and fresh ideas, then we can surprise ourselves."
Teague did share that he has a short list of coaching candidates the University will be pursuing but made a point to mention that he had not been in contact with any of them to this point. However the odds that Associate AD Mike Ellis has been in contact with these candidates are pretty good.
Likely sitting atop Teague's shortlist will be VCU head coach Shaka Smart. Teague was responsible for bringing Smart to VCU in 2009 and has a close relationship with the rising star coach. Smart leapt on to the scene in 2011 as he led VCU to the school's first Final Four in the NCAA Tournament and in all, Smart has led the Rams to an overall record of 111-36 in his four years at the helm.
Others rumored to be considered are former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders, Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg and Jay Wright from Villanova.
While Teague would not share any of the specific names, he did make it clear that he wants "to bring in somebody that can compete on the national level."
"We will move swiftly," Teague states. "You want to move quickly and you want to hustle, but you don't want to be too much in a hurry."
Teague and the internal selection committee will now dip under the radar and have no further public comments until a decision is made on the new coach.
Aj Mansour covers the Twins, Vikings, & Gopher Football for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions on this post or others in the designated comment box below. For Golden Gopher updates and breaking news follow Aj on Twitter @AjKFAN