Even by modern standards, this was a story that shot out of the gate . . . whether or not it ever had legs. With speculation spiking over Josh Pastner's future — vacancies at Minnesota, USC, and UCLA! — the Tiger coach confirmed Tuesday that he will return to Memphis for a fifth season and, based on new contract terms, beyond. (It should be noted that Pastner just completed the second year of a five year contract that was paying him $1.7 million annually through the 2015-16 season.)
Pastner and U of M athletic director Tom Bowen met briefly with the press this afternoon at the Hardaway Hall of Fame on campus. Describing the new agreement with Pastner as "sound" and "long-term," Bowen declined to share details of the extension (number of years or annual salary). Bowen said the process for the new agreement began several months ago. Pastner said he did not receive any job offers since the Tigers' season ended Saturday.
Pastner earned his first win as a head coach in the NCAA tournament last Thursday when Memphis beat Saint Mary's in Auburn Hills. The team won Conference USA's regular season title for a second straight year, and the C-USA tournament for the third year in a row. The Tigers completed their final season in C-USA with a record of 31-5 (19-0 in league play). After four seasons, Pastner holds a record of 106-34.
A few highlights from the press conference (all quotes from Josh Pastner):
"I'm very grateful to be the head coach at Memphis. It's a privilege. Tiger Nation is phenomenal, the best fan base in the entire country. Even in times of loss, that's what makes it great: their passion and involvement."
On being contacted by the likes of UCLA or USC about coaching vacancies:
"When you've done a good job, your name is going to be thrown out there. I don't think there are any issues with talking as long as your bosses are kept in the loop, and that goes for any walk of life. That means you're doing a good job. Memphis is an elite job. Ninety-nine percent of programs are on page 9-C. Here, we're on page 1-C."
On the subject of his new raise:
"I'm a pretty simple guy. I believe in giving back [to the community]. Whether it's right or wrong, coaches' salaries are about the market. I like to help as many causes as I can, whether it's with my time or financially. I never let anyone pick up the tab at dinner, and I tip very well. Everything's a gift. I don't take this for granted. I'll be the same guy."
Seven of eight rotation players are eligible to return for the 2013-14 season. In addition to four seniors, though, six more players are graduating either in May or August. On the subject of his core players returning:
"I've started to meet with all the players. First and foremost, I want the guys to finish academically. The new rule with the NBA, you only have until April 15th. You're in or you're out. I never tell the guys what they should do. They have to make the best decision for them. But I believe our core group will be back. We have a chance to be really special next year. We could be a preseason top-10 team. With tremendous exposure in the new league."
And the quote of the day:
"We will never not have good players. You have my word. A really good coach is one that can win with no talent. I never want to be a really good coach. I'll be happy being an average coach, and let's go get great players."