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Jim Larranaga Leaves George Mason to Coach Basketball at Miami

Jim Larranaga, the men’s basketball coach who led George Mason University to the Final Four in 2006, is leaving to coach the University of Miami.

In 14 seasons at the Fairfax, Virginia, school, Larranaga led the Patriots to three Colonial Athletic Association championships, five National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament appearances and a 273-164 overall record.

The team’s defeats of Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State and Connecticut in the 2006 men’s basketball tournament earned the school national attention and put Larranaga on a short-list of top coaching candidates.

“Coach Larranaga is the real deal,” University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala said in a press release. “He’s a winner, an inspirational leader, and he cares deeply about his players and staff.”

Larranaga, 61, will replace Frank Haith, who left April 4 to coach the men’s basketball team at the University of Missouri.

George Mason went 27-7 this season, tying the 2006 school record for victories, and earned an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. It rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat Villanova 61-57 before falling to top-seeded Ohio State, 98-66.

Miami initially expressed interest in Harvard University coach Tommy Amaker, who went 23-7 last season and led the school to a share of its first Ivy League title. He elected to stay at Harvard.

Terms of Larranaga’s contract were not released. The Washington Post reported that he received a contract extension from George Mason in the spring of 2008 that increased his base salary to $525,000. This past season, his incentives boosted his pay to $700,000.

Larranaga inherits a Hurricanes squad that returns four starters including the top three scorers from a team that went 21-15 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.

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