MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Tubby Smith will meet with officials at the University of Memphis Tuesday to discuss his future as the head coach of the men's basketball team, multiple sources confirmed to FOX13 Monday.
Memphis basketball fans have been waiting for clarity from the university, following multiple reports that the University may replace Smith with NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway, who is currently the basketball coach at East High School in Memphis.
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FOX13 confirmed UofM will have to pay nearly $10 million over six years to cut ties with Smith, according to the five-year contract Smith signed in 2016.
The men's basketball team ended its season this weekend with a loss to Cincinnati during the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
Students on UofM's campus Monday told FOX13 they're hoping for a change.
"Hopefully, with a new coaching hire, there would be more to be excited about," Ryan Steinberg, a UofM student, said.
Other students believe Hardaway, who is well-established in the Memphis-area high school basketball community, would do a better job than Smith at recruiting.
"We got a reputation of not getting athletes from the city," Marshall Massie, a UofM student, said. "Penny is a good guy."
"He's been doing a great job, and I feel like he can transform the program at Memphis just like he did at East," Massie added.
Smith told reporters after this weekend's game that his future with the program is unclear.
“It is what it is,” Smith said. “I’ve been in this business a long time. But I’m proud of how our team has responded this year, and how we’ve competed.”
University officials did not provide an update on the situation Monday, but FOX13 asked University of Memphis President David Rudd about the reports last week.
“Is Tubby Smith going to be the men’s basketball coach next year?” FOX13’s Kristin Leigh asked Rudd.
“Tubby Smith is our basketball coach,” Rudd said, refusing to answer the question. “We evaluate our coaches on an annual basis.”
Kristin responded by asking Rudd, “Have you been talking to Penny Hardaway?”
“Tubby Smith is our basketball coach,” Rudd repeated. “We will evaluate our coaches on an annual basis, and I’m not going to make another comment.”
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