Tubby Smith has agreed to terms to become the next coach at Texas Tech, a source confirmed to ESPN.com’s Jason King.
The Associated Press had earlier reported that the school had agreed to contract terms with Smith on Monday.
The school wouldn’t confirm an agreement, releasing a statement that read: “There is currently not an agreement in place between Texas Tech and Tubby Smith to be the basketball coach.”
Smith will take over for interim coach Chris Walker, who went 11-20 this season and just 3-15 in Big 12 play. The program is still reeling from Billy Gillispie’s volatile one-year tenure, which ended when he resigned in September.
Smith was fired by Minnesota last week after six seasons. He led them to three NCAA tournaments and this year delivered the program’s first tourney win — over sixth-seeded UCLA — since 1997. He went 124-81 (.610), winning 20 games five times. But he never finished higher than sixth in the Big Ten, going just 46-62 in conference play, prompting Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague to oust him.
He will become the fourth person to lead Texas Tech in as many seasons.
Texas Tech fans had pinned their basketball hopes on Gillispie after he’d turned around two other flagging programs in the state — UTEP and Texas A&M — and they hoped he would do the same for the Red Raiders. But he more resembled the guy who was fired at Kentucky, a hard-driving coach who had a difficult time connecting with the players he inherited.
Several players complained to the administration about how Gillispie treated them; there were some secondary NCAA violations for exceeding practice times; and it all led to the Red Raiders finishing 8-23 and winning just one Big 12 game in 2011-12 — the program’s worst season since 1990 – 91.
Gillispie stepped down in September, citing health reasons. Walker, an assistant at several schools for 17 years, led Texas Tech to an improved season, but the Houston native’s lack of experience as a head coach likely worked against him.
Smith won a national title and five Southeastern Conference championships with Kentucky before the demanding Wildcat faithful pushed him to leave for Minnesota in 2007. Smith, who was replaced at Kentucky by Gillispie, has also taken Tulsa and Georgia to the round of 16, establishing a reputation as a program builder who could succeed in places that haven’t historically been on the college basketball map.
Now he’ll try to do it one more time at Texas Tech.