After six seasons coach Tubby Smith was fired from the Minnesota Golden Gophers Monday after Athletic Director Norwood Teague said the team needed a “fresh set of eyes.”
The 61-year-old basketball coach’s firing comes on the heels of the University of Minnesota team losing the NCAA tournament to the Florida Gators Sunday night.
The athletic team announced Smith's discharge on its website Monday.
“Tubby smith has had a long and distinguished career as a college basketball coach. He’s affected a number of lives positively throughout his career and most of all he is an outstanding, outstanding human being. However, I feel it is time for a fresh approach,” said Teague.
Smith said he is grateful for the opportunity to work for six years for the college team.
"I want to thank the University of Minnesota and the people of Minnesota for giving me the opportunity to lead the Golden Gopher basketball program for six years. Our staff did things the right way and will leave knowing that the program is in far better shape than when we arrived,” said Smith.
Unnamed local and national candidates looking to fill the position are currently being interviewed by the athletic department that is heading the search without the assistance of a search firm. Teague said a coach who can recruit high-quality athletes and fit well into the University is the team's main requirements.
“I feel it is time for a fresh approach. … we felt now following a season where there were high expectations for this coaching staff that it was time to make a change for the benefits of our student-athletes and as we build for the future,” he said.
Despite the firing coming one day after the team’s NCAA loss, Teague said the decision has been a long time in the making.
“I felt like it was time to move on. … I didn’t evaluate the NCAA tournament only. I didn’t evaluate really this year only. It’s really a matter of evaluating where we are and where we are going,” he said.
Smith holds a record of 124-81 (.610) over six seasons at Minnesota and famously led the program to five postseason berths. Smith most recently made it to the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament, winning over UCLA.