Minnesota, Smith agree on contract extension

Published 8:37 am Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota coach Tubby Smith agreed to terms Monday on a contract extension with the university through the 2016-17 season by adding three more years to his original deal.

Talks first began between Smith’s agent and school officials during the 2010-11 season. After roughly a year and a half, the two sides finally reached a point where they were comfortable with both the language and the timing of the contract.

Terms of the deal weren’t immediately available. Smith’s original contract was signed for seven years and about $1.8 million annually.

Email newsletter signup

Entering his sixth season with the Gophers, Smith has yet to win an NCAA tournament game since leaving Kentucky and coming to Minnesota. But the Gophers rallied in March after another below-average performance in Big Ten play to reach the NIT championship game and finish with 23 victories. Smith was unavailable for comment, but in a statement distributed by the university, he said, “I believe that we can get the job done here. The commitment from the university is there to continue to grow the program, and I am looking forward to being a part of that.”

The most significant part of that commitment is the construction of a practice facility to bring the Gophers up to speed with the rest of the Big Ten and around the country. Smith’s agent, Ricky Lefft, said no specific timetable was spelled out but that a “mutual agreement” has been forged between the university and the coach that the new building is imminent.

“We needed to make sure there was a commitment to make that investment at the university,” Lefft said in a phone interview. “It’s been accepted by the institution, and certainly by Coach, that this is necessary to advance the program.”

New athletic director Norwood Teague said he looks forward to working with Smith “to help lift Gopher basketball to even greater heights.”

Though the 23 victories last season were the most in the program in 22 years, Minnesota is still below the level most fans, officials and followers expected when Smith arrived in 2007.