VCU’s Grant meets with UA officials on campus

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Virginia Commonwealth coach Anthony Grant spent Wednesday touring Alabama’s campus and meeting with university officials in a second round of talks about potentially replacing Mark Gottfried.

Grant and his wife, Christina, flew into town at about 10 a.m. CST Wednesday for interviews and a campus tour, athletics spokesman Doug Walker said. It was not immediately clear if the job was offered.

Grant also met with Alabama officials Sunday in Virginia, a person familiar with the meeting said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were ongoing.

Grant declined comment to reporters Wednesday before leaving with athletic director Mal Moore and several trustees for meetings, including one at the residence of President Robert Witt.

The 42-year-old Grant has led VCU to three straight Colonial Athletic Association regular-season titles and two NCAA tournament appearances in the last three seasons, including an upset of Duke. He was also a longtime assistant under Billy Donovan, including 10 years and back-to-back national championships at Florida.

That postseason resume was a big selling point for Alabama. The Tide, which has never had a black head coach in men’s basketball, missed the postseason for the third straight year under Gottfried after making the NCAA tournament five years in a row.

“We want to find a coach that we feel can keep us in the championship picture, where we are competing for the SEC championship and NCAA tournament play, that can take us as deep in that tournament as possible,” Moore said in January.

VCU pays Grant a base salary of $400,000, with bonuses and incentives that boost his pay to nearly $1 million. Gottfried was making roughly $1 million, but the Tide proved willing to pay a hefty rate to land a high-profile candidate when giving Saban a $4 million-a-year deal three years ago.

The Rams’ season ended with a 65-64 loss to UCLA in the opening round of the NCAA tournament after missing a jump shot at the buzzer. Alabama finished 18-14 and lost to Tennessee in the second round of the Southeastern conference tournament.