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NCAA men's notebook

Smart decision: He’s staying with VCU

Associated Press / April 5, 2011

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Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart is staying with the Rams after leading them on a surprising Final Four run.

The school said yesterday that Smart agreed to a new eight-year contract.

Details of the deal will be released once the contract is signed.

“We are honored that he has decided to stay a VCU Ram,’’ said athletic director Norwood Teague in a statement. “He exemplifies everything that is right about college athletics, and VCU is ecstatic about the future under his leadership.’’

The second-year coach led VCU from one of the “First Four’’ games in the NCAA Tournament to the Final Four. VCU became only the third No. 11 seed to get that far, losing to Butler, 70-62, in Saturday’s national semifinals.

Smart, who turns 34 Friday, was frequently mentioned for other coaching vacancies.

Team spokesman Scott Day said North Carolina State had recently offered Smart its top job.

“I’m extremely grateful for the belief that [VCU president Michael Rao] and Norwood Teague have shown and continue to show in our coaching staff and basketball program,’’ Smart said in a statement.

The school said Smart, who has a 55-21 record at VCU and led the Rams to the CBI championship in his first year, had a base salary of $325,000 this season and was due to make $640,000 in all with performance bonuses.

Fairfield makes hire Sydney Johnson, who led Princeton to a share of the Ivy League championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, was hired by Fairfield. Johnson coached his alma mater for four seasons, going 66-53. He replaces Ed Cooley, who left to coach at Providence . . . Frank Haith made his move west official, resigning from his coaching position at Miami to take the Missouri job. Haith went 129-101 in seven seasons with the Hurricanes. A pair of junior Missouri starters, Laurence Bowers and Kim English, declared for the NBA draft, but have not hired agents . . . Gregg Marshall told the AP he is staying on as Wichita State’s coach. Marshall, who is under contract through the 2013-14 season, led the Shockers to the NIT title last week and had been linked to the N.C. State opening . . . Towson hired Pittsburgh assistant Pat Skerry as its coach. Skerry, a Medford native, also served as an assistant at Providence, Rhode Island, and Northeastern, among other stops . . . Oklahoma State junior forward Darrell Williams will stand trial on rape and other felony charges alleging that he inappropriately touched two female students during a December party, a judge ruled. Williams, who has been suspended indefinitely from the basketball team, faces one count of sexual battery and four counts of rape by instrumentation. He remains free on bond.