Reports indicate he'll meet with university officialsReports about Utah coach Rick Majerus being a candidate for the open University of Texas head basketball job refuse to go away.
Two newspapers in Texas reported that Majerus was to meet with Texas officials as early as Monday to discuss the job vacated by Tom Penders, who resigned Friday.Majerus, who turned down a million-dollar offer from Arizona State last week, has been unavailable for comment. After appearing on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" Friday, he flew to Milwaukee to participate in a basketball camp over the weekend.
However, his name has been at the top of the Texas list ever since a third party informed Texas officials that Majerus might be interested in the position. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Majerus was to be interviewed early this week, although not necessarily in Texas.
So what would attract Majerus to Texas in the first place? The conference, the Big 12, is a step above the WAC, and the university is probably a step above Utah academically and athletically. One person close to Majerus said he "loves Texas," based on his trips to Austin with the Utes in recent years.
Penders, who is a close friend of Majerus, told the Austin American-Statesman Sunday evening he has not talked with the Utah coach since the Final Four in San Antonio.
"He's one of the very best coaches out there, in my opinion," Penders said. "I'd love to see a guy of that caliber take over the program. I know he's real happy there. Utah's been real good to him, but he's a single guy who lives in a hotel, so he doesn't have the roots that lots of coaches have."
Actually, it's the close friends Majerus has in Utah that ultimately could keep him here. Majerus has a girlfriend and is close to several people in Salt Lake.
Money could be a problem in luring Majerus to Texas because university officials are supposedly not willing to pay their basketball coach more than football coach Mack Brown, who was recently signed to a $750,000-per-year contract.
Majerus has a base salary of around $500,000 at Utah, and with his shoe deal with Reebok and the money he makes from basketball camps, he reportedly makes around $1 million total. The fact that Texas has a deal with Reebok could make it easier to work something out in dealing with Majerus.
Aside from Majerus, the leading candidate appears to be Washington coach Bob Bender, who acknowledged Sunday being contacted by University of Texas officials. He planned to meet with UT representatives Tuesday or Wednesday, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The Longhorns are hoping to move quickly to find a new coach. The earliest they can hire a new coach is Tuesday at 5 p.m, but athletic director DeLoss Dodds said he'd like to have a coach hired early in the spring signing period, which begins Wednesday.
If the UT search committee listens to the players, they likely won't hire Majerus.
According to the Dallas Morning News, UT player Chico Vazquez told the committee what the players want from a coach.
"We want a coach with an open-style game, a lot of offense," Vazquez said.
However, according to Dodds, style of play won't be a factor in who is hired.
"When we hired (Penders), the style of play was important," Dodds told the Houston Chronicle. "Now, we're looking for a winning style of play that works in the Big 12, whether it is more up-tempo or more structured. I don't think we'll go for tags. We've got to have a good person, and the good news is there's a lot of good people out there."