Shaka Smart has put to bed any rumors that he’ll be leaving the VCU Rams for another head coaching job. Smart reportedly texted ESPN’s Andy Katz informing him that despite rampant speculation, he will not be leaving his current program for another gig elsewhere and will remain with the Rams — for now.
Smart’s text didn’t leave any doubt about his immediate future plans, in fact, Smart’s extension reportedly will keep him with the program through the 2023 season.
“Coach Smart has demonstrated through this process that he is loyal to VCU and his greatest concern lies with our program moving forward every year,” VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin said in a statement. “Our goal was to present him with a revised agreement proactively rather than wait for another institution to step in with an offer.”
A lot of people pegged Smart as the guy who will take the UCLA job, but a dark horse candidate (and perhaps the more likely option) was in Minnesota with the Golden Gophers. Neither school was able to get Smart to the negotiating table, but common sense indicates that had either team done so, they would have offered much more than the $1.5 million annual salary he’ll make with the Rams.
Many of the national writers laughed at the notion of the lowly, mid-level Gophers attracting Smart, but the connections were undeniably there for Smart, and the fact that he said thanks but no thanks to the man who virtually made him says a lot about Smart’s decision to stay at VCU. Norwood Teague hired Smart at VCU when he was a nobody head coach with his only experience being as an assistant with the Florida Gators. Smart has since taken the Rams on one of the greatest cinderella stories ever told and has made the school into an attractive destination for college recruits.
But despite obvious interest from both the Bruins and Gophers, Smart is staying at VCU and the other schools will have to look elsewhere to fill their head coaching voids.