Gillispie Intends To Stay At Texas A&M

FAYETTEVILLE — An athletic department official confirmed early Thursday that Arkansas' search for a basketball coach would continue without Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie in the picture.

Around 10 a.m. Thursday morning, the official said, Texas A&M Athletic Director Bill Byrne called Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles to give him permission to speak with Gillispie. Several attempts by Broyles to contact Gillispie were then unsuccessful.

Around noon Thursday, Byrne called Broyles to say, "Billy Gillispie told me he intends to stay at Texas A&M," the official said.

Byrne has declined to comment all week.

Arkansas has long desired Gillispie, even before the Razorbacks fired Stan Heath, a source close to the basketball program said. Talks between intermediaries of Gillispie and the university basically resulted in an informal offer that eventually morphed into an official offer, the source said.

There was never an intervention by Broyles.

"Coach Broyles never spoke to Billy Gillispie about the job," the university official said. "He knew of our interest in him for the job. We've moved on in our search."

That statement was made early Thursday. Gillispie's status changed in a matter of hours. Thursday afternoon, The Texas A&M Board of Regents discussed what several Texas papers previously reported to be a contract extension verbally agreed upon by Byrne and Gillispie. But a Thursday night announcement to acknowledge Gillispie's acceptance of the extension was canceled, The San Antonio Express-News reported on its Web site.

The paper quoted school officials as saying that Gillispie was holding out in hopes of possibly landing the vacant Kentucky position. The extension would reportedly pay Gillispie a salary of at least $1.6 million per year, the Express-News reported.

So while Broyles hasn't heard an official "no" from Gillispie, the UA official said he's likely to move on. Broyles was in New Orleans tonight to deliver a speech at an Alzheimer's event. He is expected to then head to Atlanta this weekend for the Final Four to potentially interview candidates.

From here, Broyles has to see that he's running out of recognizable, big-name coaches to consider. His next top choices, according to the source close to the basketball program, would be Kansas' Bill Self and Southern California's Tim Floyd. Self has denied any interest three times this week to newspapers that cover the Jayhawks. Floyd has several times been quoted as saying, "This will be my last job."

The latter seems to make more sense, considering he's making just $850,000 per year. Self makes a little more than $1.6 million per season at Kansas.

Arkansas conceivably could almost double Floyd's salary. But, USC just built the new, state-of-the-art Galen Center. And Floyd's bringing in the second-ranked recruiting class nationally next season, led by the nation's No. 1 recruit, O.J. Mayo.

The candidate list beyond Self and Floyd is lengthy, and Broyles' preference beyond Gillispie, Self and Floyd is unknown.

UNLV's Lon Kruger and former Utah coach Rick Majerus would be more experienced choices. Broyles could try to shock the fan base by interviewing some surprise candidates, such as Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon or Memphis' John Calipari.

Or, Broyles could go with a young coach. There are competent options out there at mid-major schools, such as Winthrop's Gregg Marshall, Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery, New Mexico State's Reggie Theus, Virginia Commonwealth's Anthony Grant, Wichita State's Mark Turgeon and Oral Roberts' Scott Sutton.

Nebraska's Doc Sadler is not considered a candidate for the moment, but has served as a consultant to Broyles, according to The Omaha-World Herald.

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