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Tubby Smith in action on the sideline

Tubby Smith in action on the sideline

Gophers name Tubby Smith new basketball coach

By Rick Moore

March 23, 2007

The wait for a new men's basketball coach is over. At a news conference today (March 23) at noon, the University of Minnesota announced Tubby Smith as the new head coach of the Gophers. He takes over for interim coach Jim Molinari, who has served since Dan Monson stepped down early this past season. Smith has spent the past 10 seasons as the head coach at the University of Kentucky. During his tenure at Kentucky, Smith, 55, led the Wildcats to the 1998 national championship, six Sweet Sixteen appearances, four Elite Eight finishes, five Southeastern Conference titles, and five SEC Tournament titles. His Wildcat team was eliminated in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday by No. 1 seed Kansas. "It's an honor, it's a real privilege to be joining the Golden Gopher family," Smith said to the crowd of about 2,000 fans at Williams Arena who joined the media at the open press conference. "I feel the love already." Smith thanked his coaching predecessors at the U, and said he will hit the ground running at Minnesota. "We will guard this program, protect this program, and do everything in our power to accomplish the goals and the dreams that you have and that we have for Gopher basketball--and that's to win championships."

"Folks," Maturi said, "this guy can flat-out coach."

His head coaching career began at Tulsa, where he led the Golden Hurricane from 1991-95 before taking over as head coach at Georgia for two seasons (1995-97). Over his 16 seasons as a head coach, Smith has a record of 387-145 (a .727 winning percentage) and has posted 14 consecutive 20-win seasons and 14 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament. Athletics director Joel Maturi, in announcing Smith, said that the U was looking to "hire a proven and successful and high-profile coach. There are few coaches in America who are more proven, successful, and high profile than Tubby Smith." Maturi noted that Smith's teams have played in twice as many NCAA tournament games as the Gophers have in their history--and have won 29 of those. "Folks," Maturi said, "this guy can flat-out coach." Judging by the enthusiasm of the fans gathered at the Barn and the early buzz on campus, there's plenty of optimism for the near future of Gopher basketball. After the Rouser was played at the end of the press conference, a group of students started the first Williams Arena chant in the Smith era: "Tub-by! Tub-by! Tub-by!..." Smith and his wife, Donna, have three sons: G.G., Saul, and Brian. For more information on Smith, including a breakdown of his coaching career, go to GopherSports.