Smart Declines Illinois, Pledges Loyalty to VCU
After the Rams fell to Indiana in the third round of this year’s NCAA tournament, Illinois fans and administrators made it clear that Shaka was their No.1 target. Having worked with new Illinois AD Mike Thomas during his time at Akron, almost everyone outside of VCU fans thought Shaka would jump at the opportunity to coach the Big 10 squad and double his pay, a reported $2.5+ million offer.
After much speculation and rumors from every direction as to what Smart was thinking, the third-year VCU coach made it official today, and stating in a VCU Athletics release, “There are great things to accomplish at VCU and I’m looking forward to building on the successes of our program and university.”
VCU also said Smart is not pursuing any other offers, and that he has agreed in principle to some changes in his current contract. Contract details are being finalized.
Coach Smart is 84-27 in his three seasons at VCU and recently followed up a Final 4 appearance by winning the CAA’s conference tournament with the 9th-youngest team in the country, punching a ticket to his 2nd-straight NCAA tournament appearance where the Rams upset 5th-seeded Wichita State in the second round of play.