Memphis men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith is scheduled to meet with university administrators on Tuesday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.
Although Smith hasn’t been told what the meeting is about, one athletic department official said he is expecting to receive clarity on the mounting speculation about his job security at Memphis.
Smith just completed his second season as head coach with the Tigers, but a report last week stated that university officials are considering replacing him with former Memphis basketball star Penny Hardaway.
University President M. David Rudd told The Commercial Appeal last Tuesday that, “We’re going to evaluate the program at the end of the year.”
Memphis finished its first 20-win season in four years on Saturday with a loss to Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference tournament semifinals. Smith, 66, has a 40-26 overall record during two seasons with the Tigers, who won seven of their final nine games this year.
When asked after the Cincinnati loss if he thought he had coached his last game at Memphis, Smith responded, “Who knows?”
Rumors have swirled about Smith’s future since last week; his potential dismissal would be more related to off-court factors than the on-court product.
Attendance at home games fell to a 48-year low this year. As a result, the athletic department could miss out on an $800,000 payment from the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the school’s lease at FedExForum.
Donations to the athletic department also fell by $1.1 million during the 2016-17 fiscal year thanks in large part to a drop in men’s basketball season-ticket sales.