Tigers part ways with Tubby Smith; Hardaway waiting courtside

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tubby Smith has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the University of Memphis Tiger men's basketball team  after two seasons.

The decision was made during a meeting with administrators Wednesday.

"After considerable deliberations and in the best financial interest of the University of Memphis, an agreement of separation with Head Men's Basketball Coach Tubby Smith has been reached," U of M Assistant Athletic Director Tamy DeGroff said in a statement. "Details are to be finalized, and no further comment will be offered."

Asked upon leaving the meeting if he was still the Tigers head coach, Tubby Smith simply said, “No.”

Under Smith, the Tigers went 21-13 this season and had no postseason bid. Attendance at Tigers games has slumped to the point that the school might not receive an annual payment from FedExForum.

Smith was signed through the 2020-21 season. The Tigers will have to pay him his full remaining salary, close to $10 million over six years.

Smith, who has a distinguished coaching career that included a 1998 NCAA championship with Kentucky, took over the Memphis head coach job from Josh Pastner, who left in 2016 for a job at Georgia Tech.

At the time, U of M President David Rudd said the school would pay Pastner $1.255 million over two years after his departure.

Former NBA and University of Memphis star Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway is rumored to be the front-runner for the Memphis coaching job, according to CBS Sports.

Tubby Smith released a statement saying, "I appreciate the opportunity to have led the University of Memphis basketball program for the last two years. I'm proud of the work my staff and I have done to serve the players, the school and the community in leading us to a 21-13 season this year."

He goes on to say, "After 39 years in college coaching, I know that change happens, and I wish the University and the team the best as they pursue a different direction. As a lifelong competitor I believe the game never ends, and I'll be exploring my next move on and off the court in the coming weeks."