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Utah Utes basketball: Rumors flying in coach search

Published: Wednesday, March 16 2011 6:21 p.m. MDT

Utah athletic director Chris Hill is not going to make a rush decision in hiring a new men's basketball coach. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Utah athletic director Chris Hill is not going to make a rush decision in hiring a new men's basketball coach. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah athletics director Chris Hill declined to comment on how things are progressing in the search for Jim Boylen's replacement.

The Utes are looking for a new men's basketball coach after Hill relieved Boylen of his duties last weekend.

"There's not more I can report today than what we talked about on Saturday," Hill said Wednesday afternoon.

In discussing Boylen's dismissal Saturday, Hill told the Deseret News that a national search for a replacement would begin immediately.

"It's not an exact science, but we need to do our research. We need to make sure we get the right person for our job," Hill said. "I wouldn't want to put any artificial qualifications or a timeline on all of this. I think we have to get the best person to match our university, to move us forward as we go into the Pac-12."

Utah athletic director Chris Hill is not going to make a rush decision in hiring a new men's basketball coach.   (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Utah athletic director Chris Hill is not going to make a rush decision in hiring a new men's basketball coach. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

On Wednesday, Hill said there is nothing more he can say on how things are proceeding. He has no plans to provide updates on the situation.

In the meantime, reports are surfacing about Utah's search.

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area has reported that preliminary talks have taken place between Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett and Utah's athletic department administration.

When the Gaels were eliminated from the NIT on Tuesday, Bennett told reporters he had not interviewed for the Utah job,

"It's irresponsible reporting if somebody said that," Bennett said.

Former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried, who now works for ESPN, is also the center of much speculation.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett's name has also surfaced. However, there may not be much truth to it.

"Tony and I spoke about these rumors (Tuesday) morning ... He stated to me he is extremely happy at UVa and has no interest in other jobs," Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage said in an e-mail to TheSabre.com. "He's focused on making this the best program and all of his time and energy are put into UVa."

Another potential candidate, Trent Johnson of LSU, a former Utah assistant, may also be out of the loop. Athletics director Joe Alleva issued a statement on Johnson's future earlier this week.

"It takes time to build a consistent winner, one that competes on an annual basis for championships, and I am pleased Trent intends to remain at LSU to do just that," he said.

Another intriguing name in the pool of potential candidates is Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski.

"If Utah AD Chris Hill looks at assistants, he should look strongly at Duke's Steve Wojciechowski. He's ready to be a head coach and his wife (Lindsay) is from Utah," wrote ESPN.com Andy Katz in a blog. "The Pac-12 has already turned to a Duke assistant in a head coaching search with Johnny Dawkins at Stanford."

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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