Shaka Smart parlayed Virginia Commonwealth University’s Final Four run into a new eight-year contract that may almost quadruple his coaching pay.
Smart, 33, has a 55-21 record in two seasons at Richmond, Virginia-based VCU and was considered a candidate for schools from power conferences with coaching vacancies.
Smart had a base salary of $325,000 this season and will make $1.2 million annually under his new deal, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the negotiations. The school said financial terms will be disclosed when the contract is completed.
“Coach Smart’s contributions to the university are unquantifiable,” VCU President Michael Rao said yesterday in a statement on the school’s website. “Smart’s leadership has forever raised awareness of VCU as the major public research university that it is.”
Under Smart -- one of the 10 youngest coaches at college basketball’s highest level -- VCU this season became just the third No. 11 regional seed to reach the semifinals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.
The Rams’ postseason run featured upsets of schools from the Pacific 10, Big East, Big Ten, Atlantic Coast and Big 12 conferences. The team lost to Butler in the national semifinals.
It was the first time that VCU, which has an enrollment of 32,000, won more than one game at the NCAA tournament.
Faith in Program
Smart, who previously was an assistant to University of Florida coach Billy Donovan, said he’s grateful for the belief that Rao and VCU Athletic Director Norwood Teague have shown in the basketball program.
“Their support, in addition to the bright future that our student-athletes possess, make VCU a very special place for me to be the head basketball coach,” Smart said. “I’m very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for both our program and our university.”
Smart played point guard at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, from 1995-99 and remains the school’s career leader in assists. In addition to Florida, he was an assistant coach at Clemson, Akron and California University of Pennsylvania.
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