Tubby Smith Fired by Minnesota Golden Gophers

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2013

The University of Minnesota has fired men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith after six seasons with the team, the school announced.


UPDATE: Monday, Mar. 25, at 3 p.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

Tubby Smith released a statement on his firing on Minnesota's official website.

'I want to thank the University of Minnesota and the people of Minnesota for giving me the opportunity to lead the Golden Gopher basketball program for six years,' said Smith. 'Our staff did things the right way and will leave knowing that the program is in far better shape than when we arrived. The people of the State of Minnesota embraced Donna and me from the beginning and we will always be grateful.'

---End of update---

Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports first reported the news this morning.

Smith went 124-81 during his time with the Golden Gophers but led the team to a subpar 46-62 record against the Big Ten and only reached the NCAA tournament three of his six seasons (two first-round losses in 2009 and 2010 and a third-round loss this year).

It was that yearly abuse from the Big Ten rivals and the lack of NCAA tournament success that caused many Minnesota fans to call for changes on the coaching staff (h/t Sid Hartman of the Minnesota Star Tribune).

Whether it was the right choice for the future of the program or not, Golden Gopher nation has received the change it wanted.

Smith was hired in 2007 after spending the previous decade as the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. The 61-year-old coach won the national championship in 1998 after taking over for legendary college coach Rick Pitino, but never managed to repeat his feat. 

The allure of hiring Smith and his national title brought high expectations to the Golden Gophers program, but another early loss in the tournament this season (a 78-64 beatdown from the Florida Gators in the round of 32) has caused the university to make the move it feels is best for the men’s basketball team.

The major question now will be which coach the school tries to hire to replace Smith. Goodman claims that Minnesota will try to tempt VCU head coach Shaka Smart to the team.

From the actions of the Golden Gophers athletic department, the university is serious about making a real impact in college basketball moving forward.

That meant moving on from Smith first, though.