While reports indicate that UCLA is strongly pursuing Butler coach Brad Stevens, whether or not the 36-year-old is inclined to leave remains unclear.
First were the late Wednesday night television reports on KTLA and KCAL9 that Stevens was on the Westwood campus yesterday, but the OC Register reported that the coach was definitely in Indianapolis by Thursday morning.
A private jet with the tail number N700QA flew from LAX on Monday and stayed in Indianapolis for almost exactly 24 hours; rumors abound that the plane carried UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero or another administration member, but that is also unconfirmed.
When approached by the Indianapolis Star this morning at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, Stevens mouthed the words “no comment.” ESPN, which reported that Stevens is the Bruins’ top target, was also told by the coach that he would not comment on “any other speculation or situation.”
Regarded as one of the top young coaches in the country, Stevens led the Bulldogs to back-to-back national championship games in 2010 and 2011 and reportedly makes around $1 million a year. An Indiana native who played at DePauw University, Stevens’ roots have made him difficult to lure, even as his name gets mentioned for just about every prominent job opening in the country.
Butler’s impending move to the new Big East — a basketball-focused conference that will include schools such as Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette and Xavier — might also make a move less appealing for Stevens. A source told CBS Sports that they would be “shocked” if Stevens left.
UPDATE: ESPN initially reported that UCLA was in “contract negotiations” with Stevens before removing that part of the story.