Year Eight of the Josh Pastner era has begun.
University of Memphis president David Rudd and athletic director Tom Bowen released a statement this afternoon that confirms the 38-year-old Pastner will return for an eighth season as men's basketball coach:
"The University of Memphis wishes to congratulate and thank our student-athletes, coaching staffs and our passionate fans, who are indeed the best in the country.
We have completed our comprehensive review of the men's basketball program and concluded that our program operates in a manner consistent with the core values of our University and community, but has fallen short in our on-court performance the last two years. The U of M will make the necessary investments and changes in order that our program may compete at the highest level with Josh Pastner as our coach
The Tigers just completed a 19-15 season and were left out of the NCAA tournament field (and NIT, for that matter) a second straight year. Attendance at FedExForum for Tiger games dwindled to slightly more than 6,000 fans per game, barely qualifying the school for a six-figure payment from their tenants, the Memphis Grizzlies.
Pastner's position has been scrutinized by an increasingly restless fan base, one aware that a buyout clause in his contract would pay the coach more than $10 million if he were fired this offseason. (The contract runs through the 2019-20 season.)
Pastner's Tigers have made four NCAA tournament appearances in his seven years at the helm, never making it to the event's second weekend (Sweet 16). Overall, his record at Memphis is 167-73. The win total is fourth in the history of the program.