Larry Brown Suddenly Resigns
BY: Richard W. Humphrey
UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – Last Friday morning, SMU Head Basketball Coach Larry Brown abruptly resigned his post citing his inability to work out a contract extension with SMU as the reason. Brown originally signed a five year contract with SMU to be the head basketball coach and has completed four years. Most reports have the contract impasse relating to the length of the extension.
The Dallas Morning News’ Kevin Sherrington reported that Brown initially sought a six year extension to similar to the term Head Football Coach Chad Morris received when he took the job. Brown turns 76 in September, so with the year remaining on his current contract, he would have entered that final season at the age of 82. Brown is said to have reduced that demand to five years for the extension and perhaps even to four; but SMU did not want to go more than three years, which would have taken Brown through the 2019-20 season.
Sherrington also reported that there were disparities in the amount of money that would be guaranteed, and that even the full amount of SMU’s offer represented a pay cut from his current contract. However, another report indicated that SMU was willing to pay almost $10 million over the three years the school was willing to extend, which was definitely an increase.
SMU also wanted a contract provision allowing the school to negate the contract if the program was put on NCAA probation again.
Brown met with the team early Friday morning to disclose that he had resigned. Brown apparently gave the news to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein, as the news hit the airways shortly after 8:00 AM (Central) citing Rothstein as the source.
“I love this place,” Brown told the Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend. They gave me a chance to coach – a 70 year-old man. I don’t know how people would have even considered me. It’s been the most amazing experience.”
“And then having my kids in school here was an extra benefit I never would have believed at this point of my life.” Brown has a son and a daughter that will be a senior and sophomore respectively this fall at SMU.
The timing unfortunately came across poorly, as the announcement came just hours after the sniper shooting that killed five police officers in downtown Dallas Thursday night. Brown indicated that he regretted the timing in view of Thursday night’s events and considered waiting until Monday to make the announcement; but he felt that if he waited, the news would leak, and he did not want it to get out in that manner.
The Mustangs have been extremely successful under Brown, whose record for his four year tenure was 94-39. The Mustangs have been ranked in the Top 25 at the end of each of the last three seasons. In the 2014 post-season, they lost in the NIT finals to Minnesota. A year later, they made the NCAA Tournament after winning both the American Athletic Conference regular season championship and the post season conference tournament. This past year, the team was 25-5 and finished second to Temple in the AAC regular season. They however were ineligible to go to post season play over academic issues.
On Monday, Associate Head Coach Tim Jankovich was named as the new SMU Head Basketball Coach. Jankovich, who had spent the last four years on Brown’s staff, was no surprise, as he was anointed the “coach in waiting” when he accepted the position. He has previously served as the head coach at North Texas State and Illinois State. He is known as a good recruiter. His most prized recruit is Nic Moore, who he recruited at Illinois State and joined him at SMU when he took a job on Brown’s staff. He was involved in recruiting all the players currently on the SMU roster.
Last fall, he was the active head coach for the NCAA mandated nine-game suspension of Larry Brown. Under that suspension, Brown was allowed absolutely no contact with SMU period. Jankovich ran all the practices and coached the games with no guidance from Brown during the suspension. The Mustangs began the season 9-0 under Jankovich, and the opponents included power conference teams Michigan, Stanford and TCU, with only Michigan at home.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to work alongside Coach Brown the last four years,” Jankovich said in a prepared release to the media. “I am grateful to have worked with and learned from one of the legends of our game, and to have formed such a meaningful relationship. I will miss him and am thankful for all that he has done for SMU and for me personally. I am excited about the future of SMU basketball, and I am looking forward to continuing the tradition of excellence that we have begun.”
SMU President R. Gerald Turner said in the same press release, “We’re thankful for Coach Brown’s efforts here at SMU to rebuild our program and bring the magic back to Moody (Coliseum). His teams brought great energy and excitement to campus. That said, I believe Coach Jankovich can continue to build upon that success and keep us on that upward trajectory. I believe there are more championships in the near future for SMU basketball.”
Brown certainly leaves the program in far better shape than when he arrived. “We’ve got terrific kids,” Brown said. “I think we’ve elevated the program to where it’s a Top 25 program. I’m proud of that.”
SMU Athletic Director Rick Hart added, “Coach Brown was able to accomplish so much in his four years of the Hilltop. He has left his mark on SMU basketball, and we are thankful for what he’s done.”