The University of Arkansas is working to finalize a deal to make Nevada’s Eric Musselman the Razorbacks new men’s head basketball coach as early as today, according to multiple sources who began sharing details Saturday afternoon of a fast-approaching annoucement.
The sources confirmed Arkansas athletic department officials met with Musselman on Monday night in Nevada before both sides met up again in Minneapolis later in the week to negotiate a deal to make Musselman the new head coach at Arkansas. Sources also confirmed that Arkansas pursued Houston’s Kelvin Sampson and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, bringing Marshall and his family to Fayetteville on Thursday for an interview.
Musselman would replace Mike Anderson, who after eight seasons was relieved of his head coaching duties by Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek on Tuesday, March 26. Nevada reportedly pays Musselman $1 million annually — the highest paying coaching job in the Mountain West Conference.
The Arkansas job would be the first head coaching opportunity at a high-major NCAA Division 1 program for Musselman, who in four seasons at his only college head coaching stop led mid-major Nevada to a 110-34 overall record (76.4%), an NCAA tournament Sweet 16 (2017-18), three NCAA tournament berths (2-3 record, ’17-19), and three MWC titles (’17-19). His 30-year coaching career includes NBA head coaching stints at Golden State (2002-04) and Sacramento (’06-07) as well as numerous assistant coaching jobs in both the NBA and college ranks dating back to 1990.
Musselman’s 2018-19 season at Nevada ended on March 21 when the Wolf Pack lost to Florida, 70-61, in the first round of the West Region of the NCAA tournament. Nevada had seven seniors and finished with a 29-4 overall record, 15-3 for first place in the MWC, and a final Associated Press Top 25 poll-ranking of No. 20. The Wolf Pack were ranked 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 34th in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com college basketball ratings. Musselman’s best finish at Nevada was his third season in Reno in ’17-18 when he led the 7th-seeded Wolf Pack to the NCAAT Sweet 16 after double-digit-deficit comeback wins over 10th-seeded Texas and 2nd-seeded Cincinnati. That team finished 29-8 overall — the most wins in single season in school history, which would be matched in ’18-19 — and its 15-3 league record was good for first place in the MWC as Musselman was named the conference’s Coach of the Year.