Less than 24 hours after Minnesota lost to Florida in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, Gophers head coach Tubby Smith has been fired.
Monday afternoon, Minnesota director of athletics Norwood Teague confirmed Smith "has been relieved of his coaching duties, effective immediately."
Teague will address the media at a 3 p.m. news conference.
"Tubby has had a long and distinguished career and we feel it's time for a fresh set of eyes for our student-athletes and our program in general," Teague said. "We are grateful to Tubby and his entire staff for their hard work and dedication to this University, our students and the entire Minnesota community. We wish Tubby, Donna and the entire staff well."
Tubby Smith has a contract buyout of $2.5 million.
"I hope our fans look at this one as an investment rather than expenditure," Teague said of the buyout.
Teague said a national search for the 17th Gophers basketball coach is ongoing and being conducted internally, with no plans to hire an outside firm. Names rumored to be on the list of prospective coaches include: Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart, Villanova's Jay Wright, Alabama's Anthony Grant, Marquette's Buzz Williams and former Gophers player and Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders.
"We're going to look for the right fit for our program," Teague said. "It doesn't have to be the person everyone thinks it's going to be."
The Gophers began the season 15-1 before playing sub-.500 basketball in the Big Ten, including a four game losing streak (Indiana, Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin). The Gophers finished the regular season with losses to Nebraska and Purdue before losing to Illinois in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
"I want to thank the University of Minnesota and the people of Minnesota for giving me the opportunity to lead the Golden Gopher basketball program for six years," Smith said. "Our staff did things the right way and will leave knowing that the program is in far better shape than when we arrived. The people of the State of Minnesota embraced Donna and me from the beginning and we will always be grateful."
Tubby Smith's firing was first reported by CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman.
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