ESPN reported here that Shaka Smart is going to be staying at VCU, but for a lot more money than he was making before. Smart had interest, and apparently an offer, from NC State, who is looking to replace Sidney Lowe this offseason. Smart is getting a pretty major raise–going from a $325,000 base salary to $1.2 million. Wow, not bad for a guy who just went 12-6 in the Colonial League this past season.
When you get down to it, though, this is great for both sides. Who knows what may have happened if there were more openings at big programs this off-season? VCU only had to beat out a middling (and that might be generous) NC State program’s offer to keep Smart. We’re still waiting on more details on the specifics of the deal, but suffice to say that Shaka is going to be making about four times as much as he had been previously. He also gets to stay at a program where a) he is obviously very comfortable, b) has about as much job security you can get at this point, and c) everyone in the program absolutely loves him.
When you think about it–why on earth would Smart have gone to NC State? They just fired a guy who was one of the best players in the program’s history–not to say he didn’t absolutely deserve to get canned, but what kind of loyalty would they have to Smart if that’s how they treat their own. This is huge for VCU as well. As sweet as this Final 4 run has been, how devestating would it have been to immediately lose the guy who led them there? Sure, they gave him a huge raise, but the amount of exposure that Smart has brought to the school has probably already paid for at least a few years of his base salary. George Mason is putting up new buildings on their campus because of the money that their 2006 Final 4 appearance is netting them.
In the end, this is a win-win for everyone involved… well, except for NC State, but they’ve been losing for so long at this point that they’re easy to forget. Honestly, how hard must it be to win at NC State? You’re, at best, third or fourth in the pecking order just in your own state in terms of recruiting–not sure if you’d put them or Wake at number three–but you still are playing a tough ACC schedule year-in and year-out. It’s not like Raleigh is a big attraction, either. I’m not sure where they go from here. One thing I do know is that they did not appreciate Herb Sendek nearly enough while he was there.