Shaka Smart off the market?

One of the top names on UCLA’s coaching search list may be off limits. VCU’s Shaka Smart has been one of the hottest commodities in college basketball since his team’s Final Four run in 2011, but the 35-year-old could be staying in Richmond for the foreseeable future.

Multiple reports today indicate that VCU is working on restructuring Smart’s contract, including increased investment into the Rams program. The news was first reported by Wes McElroy of Richmond’s Sports Radio 910.

Although nothing has been finalized, USA Today reported that the school hopes to reach an agreement with Smart by the end of the week.

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Tevin McDonald released for violation of team policy

Safety Tevin McDonald has been released from the UCLA football team for a violation of team policy. The junior was suspended for last year’s Holiday Bowl for reportedly failing a third drug test.

Head coach Jim Mora would not confirm whether this most recent violation was the same was the one that sidelined him for the Bruins’ season finale.

“I’m disappointed for Tevin,” Mora said. “I’ve known him since he was a young boy. Probably met him when he was five. I care about him and I hope that everything turns out well for him. He’s got a great family. He’s got very supportive parents, and I know they’ll find the right avenues for him to have success.” Continue reading

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Full teleconference transcript on Howland firing

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero spoke with media members for 12 minutes after the school announced that it had fired men’s basketball coach Ben Howland. Here is the full transcript.

Guerrero’s opening statement:

Earlier this afternoon, I met with Coach Ben Howland. We had a nice conversation about the program and a number of things. Subsequent to that discussion, I informed him that we were relieving him of his duties as a head coach at UCLA, and that we would be moving forward with a search as soon as possible.

Q: What were the reasons behind the decision? Continue reading

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Guerrero: Decision to fire Howland was made today

Athletic director Dan Guerrero didn’t get into too many specifics in today’s teleconference on coach Ben Howland’s firing, but here are a few quick notes. Guerrero took questions for roughly 12 minutes.

— Guerrero said he did not make the decision until he flew back to Los Angeles from Austin this afternoon. He first met with Chancellor Gene Block before meeting Ben Howland to officially deliver the news.

— Howland’s compensation will be the $3.5 million left on his contract. Guerrero said that cost would be mitigated should Howland find another job. As for where the money will come from, Guerrero said: “We have an $80 million budget. We’re incorporate the buyout as part of that budget. … I believe we’ve got it covered.”

— Guerrero did not want to comment on speculation that Howland’s job could have been saved by a tournament run with a non-injured Jordan Adams, but did say this: “The fact that we had such a depleted roster, in many respects, is in part one of the reasons for making the decision.”

— On the coaching search: “We’ll look for someone who can play a fun brand of basketball, but also a quality brand of basketball. … We don’t want to bring in a coach that’s going to average 50 points per game.”

Guerrero said he will not contact a target that is still currently coaching in the NCAA tournament. He added that while college coaches have an edge, NBA coaches will also be considered.

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