After a week of waiting, Ram Nation finally got the answer to its question concerning the future of men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant.
On Friday night, Grant informed various media outlets that he resigned from the VCU job and agreed, in principle, to a deal with the University of Alabama to become the new coach of the Crimson Tide.
The deal became official Sunday as Grant spoke at a press conference in Tuscaloosa.
“As our search progressed over the last few weeks it became readily apparent that Coach Grant is an excellent fit to lead our program,” Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore said in a statement to the Associated Press released on Friday.
Alabama officials first met with Grant on March 22 in Richmond. The VCU coach also paid a visit to Tuscaloosa last Wednesday where he met with university President Robert Witt and head football coach Nick Saban.
Grant came to VCU after Jeff Capel left for Oklahoma in 2006. He compiled a record of 76-25 in his three seasons at VCU. He led the Rams to three consecutive CAA regular season titles and two NCAA tournament bids.
He was also on the sidelines when VCU upset Duke in the 2007 NCAA tournament, arguably the biggest win in school history.
Grant’s hire will also set a milestone at Alabama, as he will be the first African-American coach for men’s basketball or football, the school’s two highest-income sports.
Grant told the Associated Press, “We have been given the opportunity to create a very special situation for men’s basketball at the University of Alabama and we look forward to getting started.”
The former Florida assistant will now head back to the Southeast Conference where he was an assistant for the Gators for 10 years.
The Alabama job became available when former coach Mark Gottfried resigned in the middle of the season. Gottfried was the coach at his alma mater for 11 seasons and led them to the Elite Eight in 2004, the most successful tournament run in school history.
The Crimson Tide finished 18-14 this past season and missed post-season play for the third consecutive season.
Coach Grant’s deal is expected to be worth around $2 million plus incentives.
Grant was making $700,000 plus incentives at VCU prior to his departure.
Despite the long off-season ahead, VCU plans to make the decision on Grant’s replacement as quickly as possible.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, VCU assistant coach Tony Pujol is being given strong consideration. Also on the list of possible successors is Florida assistant coach Shaka Smart and Texas assistant coach Russell Springmann. The Birmingham News is reporting that Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo may also be a candidate.
“We’re certainly disappointed to lose Anthony,” VCU Athletic Director Norwood Teague told vcuathletics.com. “However, his service at VCU was unmatched, and we want what’s best for Anthony and his family.”
Grant’s successor will be the third VCU basketball coach since 2002.