Alabama gets OK to talk to VCU’s Grant

Published 4:49 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2009

RICHMOND, Va. — Anthony Grant, who has led Virginia Commonwealth University to the NCAA tournament twice in the last three seasons, is again a popular figure as major conference schools look for a coach.

Alabama athletic director Mal Moore received permission from VCU’s Norwood Teague over the weekend to speak to Grant about its coaching vacancy, Teague said Tuesday.

So far, Alabama is the only one to have asked, Teague said.

It’s not clear whether Grant and Alabama have had any discussions. Grant did not return calls Tuesday and phone and e-mail messages to his agent, Mark Carmony, were not returned.

Alabama spokesman Doug Walker said the school would have no comment until a coach is hired.

VCU, which does not have a football team, pays Grant a base salary of $400,000, with bonuses and incentives that boost his pay to nearly $1 million.

Potential suitors for Grant that already have a vacancy are Georgia and perhaps Virginia. Alabama and Georgia both play in the Southeastern Conference, and the Cavaliers are in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The 42-year-old Grant spent 12 years as Billy Donovan’s right-hand man, including 10 at Florida, before taking over as the Rams’ coach when Jeff Capel left for Oklahoma three years ago. He has led VCU to three Colonial Athletic Association regular season titles.

Florida had just won the national championship, and in his first season in Richmond, Grant led the Rams to the CAA regular season and tournament championships, and then to a victory against Duke in the NCAA tournament. The Rams took Pittsburgh to overtime in the second round before losing, and the showing quickly made Grant a hot commodity in the coaching ranks.

Only Donovan having second thoughts at the last minute after agreeing to leave Florida for the NBA’s Orlando Magic prevented Grant from leaving after a year to coach the Gators.

But the interest in Grant has hardly waned.

Last season, the Rams again won the CAA regular season, but lost in the tournament semifinals and were snubbed by the NCAA tournament, and this year they won the conference regular season and tournament titles. In the 2009 NCAA tournament, they lost 65-64 in the first round to UCLA when Eric Maynor’s contested 17-foot jumper at the buzzer missed.

A year ago, Grant was among the candidates for the job at LSU before the Tigers hired Trent Johnson, and the Rams’ success this year made it likely other schools would call.

VCU, meanwhile, is left hoping Grant’s ties to the community will get him to stay.

Grant and his wife, Christina, have four elementary- and middle-school-aged children, and his brother is a doctor in the area.