Updates from Wednesday, April 23
Haith named his coaching staff, per the Tulsa website:
The University of Tulsa Head Basketball Coach Frank Haith announced today the addition of assistant coaches Dave Leitao, Tom Abatemarco and Dennis Felton, and strength and conditioning coach Todor Pandov to his Golden Hurricane coaching staff.
Seeing the writing on the wall and pressure mounting from fans and alumni in Columbia, Frank Haith has decided to get out while he still can. Haith and Tulsa University have reportedly reached a verbal agreement for the Missouri men's basketball coach to leave his post and take the same position with the Golden Hurricane. The team announced the news on Friday:
The University of Tulsa named Frank Haith as the school's 30th head basketball coach, it was announced today by TU's Vice President & Director of Athletics Dr. Derrick Gragg.
"We are extremely pleased to have Frank Haith as our basketball coach and happy to welcome the Haith family to the Tulsa community," said Gragg. "Frank brings tremendous talent as a head coach and recruiter - qualities that will place us in an excellent position as TU basketball transitions into the competitive American Athletic Conference, a league that boasts the current national champion."
"Frank Haith brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his job as head coach at Missouri," said university President Steadman Upham.
"Following in the footsteps of Golden Hurricane basketball coaching legends Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith and Bill Self is no small order, but Frank is up to the task," Upham said. "The university has every confidence that Frank's success in the SEC will translate to recruiting and coaching success at TU."
ESPN's Jeff Goodman first reported Haith was headed to Tulsa to finalize the deal Thursday:
Missouri's Frank Haith has reached verbal agreement to become the head coach at Tulsa, source told ESPN. Haith is en route to Tulsa now.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 17, 2014
Goodman later reported terms of Haith's agreement with Tulsa:
Haith would not comment on the terms of the deal, but a source with direct knowledge told Andy Katz of ESPN.com that Haith will receive a seven-year deal, which includes a one-year extension after the first year, at an average of $1.85 million.
Tulsa World's Bill Haisten reports that Haith will officially be named Tulsa's new coach on Friday:
A source told the Tulsa World on Thursday night that the University of Tulsa will officially announce Friday that Missouri coach Frank Haith has accepted an offer to become the Golden Hurricane’s new head basketball coach.
Haith traveled to Tulsa on Thursday – less than 24 hours after the conclusion of Wednesday’s Mizzou basketball banquet in Columbia – for a meeting with TU President Steadman Upham and athletic director Derrick Gragg.
Haith talked to reporters about the decision on Friday, according to Martina Del Bonita of Fox 23 in Tulsa:
Frank Haith's new jersey pic.twitter.com/vSZPjsUQm3— Martina Del Bonta (@MartinaFOX23) April 18, 2014
Haith: my family loved Columbia...I loved the fan base. But it took a job like Tulsa to leave— Martina Del Bonta (@MartinaFOX23) April 18, 2014
Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has Missouri athletic director Mike Alden's comments on Haith's decision to leave:
That's right: Haith told Mike Alden he was taking the Tulsa job via text message.— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) April 18, 2014
Alden: The next time I talk to you after today will be when we introduce the next head coach.— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) April 18, 2014
Alden asked if Haith approached him looking for an extension. Alden wouldn't answer, says he expressed "sense of urgency" for next year— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) April 18, 2014
Alden asked if Missouri in position to hire a high-profile $$ coach. "We're very pleased with the growth of our budget."— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) April 18, 2014
Alden says foundation for Mizzou program is stronger now than when Haith was hired.— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) April 18, 2014
Alden says Haith did not discuss taking any of his staff members with him to Tulsa— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) April 18, 2014
Haith, 48, compiled a 76-28 record in three seasons at Missouri. He led the Tigers to a Big 12 Conference tournament championship in 2012, and made two NCAA tournament appearances, each ending with round of 64 losses. Missouri went 23-12 this past season but did not make the NCAA tournament. The Tigers' season ended with a second-round NIT loss to Southern Mississippi.
While it superficially seems like a shock for Haith to leave a major-conference program like Missouri for Tulsa, a mid-major, there were numerous mitigating factors that helped facilitate the move.
The Tigers are losing their top three leading scorers. Guards Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown decided to forgo their senior years to enter the NBA draft—both are likely mid-to-late second-round picks—and Earnest Ross has used up his eligibility. Missouri currently has the No. 26 recruiting class nationally, per 247Sports' composite rankings, but have landed only one high-profile replacement guard in Namon Wright. It's fair to say expectations will be minimal for the patchwork roster in 2014-15.
More disturbing, though, is Missouri basketball's recent bout with off-the-court trouble. Forward Zach Price, a Louisville transfer expected to be a big-time contributor next season, was dismissed from the team last week after being arrested twice on assault charges.
According to police records obtained by Steve Walentik of the Columbia Daily Tribune, Price was charged with third-degree assault and third-degree domestic assault following a dispute at his apartment. He's alleged to have punched one of the victims.
Price was the third Missouri basketball player arrested in the last month. In March, guards Wes Clark and Shane Rector were suspended after being arrested and charged with marijuana possession along with two other student-athletes. Coupled with the suspension of senior forward Tony Criswell, there were questions about whether Haith had lost control of his program.
"Frank is looking for a way out of Missouri," a source told CBS Sports' Gary Parrish. "This might be it."
Haith himself is not immune to scandal. The NCAA suspended Haith five games for his rules violations connected to former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro. Haith was the coach for seven seasons with the Hurricanes before bolting for Missouri in 2011.
At Tulsa, Haith will find himself with relatively weak American Athletic Conference competition and a foundation of semi-success built by Doug Wojcik and Danny Manning. The Hurricane have not had a losing season since 2005-06. Manning led the school to its first NCAA tournament appearance in more than a decade this past season, earning a No. 15 seed. Manning left Tulsa earlier this month to fill Wake Forest's vacancy.
As for Missouri, the administration is obviously in a tough spot. The program has finished with a worse result every year under Haith, and the mass exodus of talent is only going to make things worse. It would be surprising if their recruits did not re-open their options. As noted by Goodman, potential top candidates like Dayton's Archie Miller are unlikely to have interest:
Missouri targets: Mike White, Archie Miller, Craig Neal. My gut says that Miller won't have interest -- as was case with Marquette.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 17, 2014
That said, this is still a major-conference job that should come with a long leash. There aren't many of those around the nation. Given the mess Missouri has had with Haith, expect a search that leaves no stone unturned—and a hire who is far less controversial.
We'll have to see whether Haith, with just three NCAA tournament appearances in 10 seasons as a coach, fares better away from the major-conference spotlight.
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