When the coaching carousel started spinning this postseason, it didn’t take long for college basketball fanatics to begin speculating on VCU head coach Shaka Smart’s next move. This has come to be an annual headache for VCU fans, as major programs across the country try to position themselves to lure Smart in with money, prestige, and power. Over the past four years, Smart has turned down offers from UCLA, Minnesota, NC State, Illinois, USC, and now Marquette.
Shaka’s commitment to VCU year after year (usually in the form of a contract renegotiation) is the single greatest gesture he could make to a fanbase who cautiously follow news media in the postseason. I use the word ‘cautiously’ because as a fan, I can give you 20 reasons why Shaka loves VCU and Richmond, while the rest of the country can’t understand why he would turn down an extra $2,000,000 per year.
Simply put, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY.
Shaka currently makes about $1,500,000 per year, with additional incentives. This year, according to VCU Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin, “Shaka didn’t want anything new or to even discuss the contract”. Instead, Shaka requested that any additional money be allocated to the team. As such, VCU will be allocating an additional $200,000 to the basketball program this year (as well as an additional $100,000 next year). The money will come from private funds, including ticket sales and general fundraising. The additional money will be used for assistant coach salaries and team entertainment. For example, some money can be used to send the team to DC to watch former Ram Larry Sanders (Milwaukee Bucks) play against the Wizards, giving them an opportunity to see what can be achieved.
With perhaps one of the greatest incoming recruiting classes (ranked #15, with 3 ESPN TOP 100s ) of all time, and a recently announced $25 million practice facility on the way, Shaka and the VCU Athletic Department are poised to make even more history at VCU.
The moral of the story: Shaka has made tremendous sacrifice, and turned down many lucrative opportunities to build something VERY special here at VCU.