After multiple reports of a Tuesday afternoon meeting to discuss the future of Memphis basketball coach Tubby Smith, ESPN is reporting the meeting has been moved to Wednesday.
Local 24’s Brad Broder saw Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen leave the U of M administration building at 3:50 p.m., 10 minutes before the reported 4:00 p.m. meeting start.
If and when a coaching change is official, Smith will be owed a buyout of $9.75 million. That money can be paid out to Smith across 6 years.
With the 66-year-old at the helm, Memphis continued its home attendance struggles. The average at FedExForum plummeted from more than 16,000 four years ago to about 6,000 this past year. Fewer season tickets means donations tied to season tickets also fell by more than $1 million.
According to multiple sources, Smith’s replacement is expected to be U of M’s most famous basketball alumnus, Penny Hardaway, who is about to coach Memphis’ East High School in the state championship basketball game.
If and when Hardaway is hired as head coach, he’ll be charged with reinfusing energy, enthusiasm, and money back into the Tigers basketball program.
Tigers fans we caught up say they are ready for a coaching change.
“Two years, I guess it’s not that much, but I feel like we kind of gave him a shot, didn’t make the tournament this year, I feel like that would have been probably needed,” said Robbie Flack. “I feel like we gave him his chance, but he just didn’t do it.”
“Penny knows a lot about basketball, of course, he has a really good AAU team, he could bring those guys in, bring those top guys in the country and just bring this back to loving basketball, Memphis basketball as it was,” said Cameron Bowman.
Brad emailed Smith’s attorney but hasn’t heard back. University officials also aren’t commenting as of 5:00 p.m. Tuesday.
The Memphis Tigers basketball team hasn’t qualified for the postseason in 4 years. The program just opened the $20 million Laurie-Walton Basketball Center about 4 months ago.