BLOOMINGTON – If a published report is true that IU officials have offered its men's basketball coaching job to Tony Bennett, then Indiana already knows the answer.
Tony Bennett will be the next head men's basketball coach at Indiana University.
According to sources close to the situation, one of the priorities of IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan and the coaching search committee was to make sure it knew the answer before it asked someone to take over the program. IU officials didn't want to suffer through the negative PR of having a coach or two turn down the job.
With that in mind, it's a safe assumption that if Bennett has been offered the IU job, he'll be in Bloomington shortly.
It's widely believed IU made unsuccessful overtures to other coaches before settling on Kelvin Sampson two years ago. While it's never been revealed who those candidates were, Gonzaga's Mark Few, Louisville's Rick Pitino and Marquette's Tom Crean were among those who were rumored to have possibly shunned IU officials.
Kentucky went through a similar PR nightmare last spring while looking for a replacement for Tubby Smith. School officials attempted to lure both Florida Coach Billy Donovan and Texas Coach Rick Barnes to town before settling on Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie.
Indiana had no interest in having its search follow a similar course in its second coaching search in three years.
Bennett has spent the last two years at Washington State, leading the Cougars to a 26-8 record in 2007 and a 26-9 mark this past season. The 38-year-old was the consensus choice as National Coach of the Year in 2007 and guided the Pac-10 school to the Sweet 16 this spring. Washington State bowed out of the tournament Thursday night, falling to North Carolina 68-47.
Bennett is the son of legendary college coach Dick Bennett, having played and coached under him. Tony starred for his father at UW-Green Bay from 1989-92, finishing as the Phoenix' all-time leader in both points (2,285) and assists (601). He was a second-round NBA draft pick in 1992 and spent three years in the pros before getting his coaching career underway.
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