Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown resigned Friday morning as SMU’s basketball coach, citing an inability to work out an acceptable contract extension to stay on as the coach of the Mustangs.
Brown, 75, began the fifth and final year of his contract in June. Brown told the Dallas Morning News that he and school officials, primarily SMU president Gerald Turner, had for the past 20 months discussed an extension, but could not agree on terms.
“I love this place,” Brown told the Morning News. “They gave me a chance to be the coach as a 70-year-old man, I don’t know how people would have even considered me. It’s been the most amazing, positive experience.”
“But, with that said, the essence of it is based on what (SMU officials) they told me they would do for me (contractually), I just couldn’t be truthful with these kids anymore.”
Although Coach Brown wouldn’t allude to the reason for his retirement (again), a source close to him, said it was over the length of the deal, not the money initially, ut it became a sore spot as SMU cut the length of the offer and what amount of the contract would be guaranteed.
The school reported otherwise, according to SMU Athletic Director Rick Hart.
“We offered Coach Brown a long-term contract through 2020 and hoped he would continue to serve as head coach,” Hart told the Morning News. “This morning, however, I was notified by his agent that he would be stepping down.”
On Friday evening, Brown gathered SMU players and gave them the news, while the resignation letter was being delivered to the school.
“My coach’s responsibility was to be able to tell my kids face-to-face.” Brown said. “I was scared to do death that I wouldn’t be able to do that. Since more than anything, a coach has a responsibility to tell the kids first.”
Brown leaves SMU with the best winning percentage of any SMU coach that coached for more than one season (.707). His 94-39 record included an American Athletic Conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth in 2014-2015.
The school started 18-0 last season before ultimately finishing second in AAC play. SMU missed the postseason due to a self-imposed postseason ban on the heels of an NCAA investigation into academic improprieties.
Brown also missed nine games during this past season and the program was docked nine scholarships over a three-year period as a result of the NCAA investigation.
Unfortunately for the Hall-of-Fame Coach violations tended to follow his programs at Kansas and North Carolina, they caught up with him at SMU. Whether they are part of the reason that the school decided to offer less than Brown wanted is unclear, only A.D. Hart and Brown know for sure. But, Hart was gracious in a statement about Brown’s tenure with the Mustangs!
“Coach Brown was able to accomplish so much in his four years on the Hilltop, including leading us to our first conference title since 1993,” Hart said in a statement. “He has left his mark on SMU basketball, and we are thankful for what he’s done.”