Butler coach Brad Stevens turned down UCLA on Friday, leaving athletic director Dan Guerrero to look elsewhere for a basketball coach. Guerrero had focused his...
LOS ANGELES — Butler coach Brad Stevens turned down UCLA on Friday, leaving athletic director Dan Guerrero to look elsewhere for a basketball coach.
Guerrero had focused his attention on Stevens this week after Shaka Smart agreed to a contract extension at Virginia Commonwealth.
UCLA and Stevens talked, but they did not reach a formal negotiation stage. Stevens, whose Butler teams reached the national title game in 2010 and 2011, decided to remain in Indiana.
Stevens was UCLA’s first choice after Guerrero fired Ben Howland on Sunday.
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Where this leaves UCLA is unknown. Many Bruins fans are holding out hope that Louisville’s Rick Pitino or Florida’s Billy Donovan will be interested once their teams are done in the NCAA tournament.
UCLA was said to be offering between $2.5 million and $3 million per season to Stevens. Pitino makes $4.5 million and Donovan makes $3.5 million. Both have substantial perks built into their contracts. Even if UCLA ups the ante, it is unlikely it could pry either of those two loose, leaving Guerrero to find a suitable name for a fan base with extremely high expectations.
Guerrero has said he will not comment during the coach search.
There are still several college coaches out there whose profile are rising with each NCAA tournament win. One of them, Gregg Marshall of Wichita State, is in Los Angeles, where his team will play Ohio State in the West Regional final Saturday.
Speaking at a news conference Friday, Marshall was asked about his name being linked to job openings.
“I don’t deal with it,” he said. “I’ve been a head coach for 15 years, and at least 10 of those years there’s been conjecture like that. I’ve made one coaching move in 15 years, so I’m not a jumper. I’m very pleased to be the coach at Wichita State. Content, happy, and you can’t buy happy.”
Stevens has been the target for just about every major job opening during the past three years, but he always has been thought of as a tough fish to land. He was born and raised in Indiana, went to college at DePauw, never has held a college coaching job anywhere other than Butler and has professed a love for the lifestyle in his home state.
In a text message to ESPN, Stevens reaffirmed his status at Butler, but he also left the door slightly ajar by saying he would not comment on “any other speculation or situation.”
“I’m the coach at Butler,” he wrote.
Numerous candidates have been mentioned for the UCLA job, including those with NBA experience, but a source close to the search said via text message to ESPN that “Dan is focused on a college coach.”
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