Tubby Smith really wants a practice facility

Minnesota coach Tubby Smith once again spent part of the offseason downplaying rumors that he would leave for another job, but at the same time has been steadfast in saying he wants a new practice facility -- one that has been talked about since before he decided to come to work for the Golden Gophers.

In an interview in The Star Tribune, Smith continued to reiterate just how much the proposed facility means to building the program he envisions, saying that he has addressed his concerns about resources with school officials.

"I'd like to see something done to help basketball. We've done our part. We need to get that done because there really hasn't been anything done for basketball since I've been here in a major way. ... I think it's just the times. You had the financial economic struggles. But I think the university as well as the economy is starting to move in a different direction."


But he made it clear that he expects the school to make a greater commitment to the program going forward.

"[It's] kind of like the NASCAR. You want to win? You better put some money in there," he said. "You got to [have] the right engine, you got the right people running it, you've got to have the right pit crew. You'd better be changing and looking to evaluate every day. You've got to have that because you're competing. You're competing against everybody else."

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Smith also said he wants a timetable for the facility before he signs a contract extension, but a definite date right now isn't available.

"I want to do everything I can to keep Tubby Smith as our basketball coach, and I mean that very, very strongly," [athletic director Joel] Maturi said Wednesday. "But I don't think any of us can give an answer to (the timetable) immediately. It's a challenging fundraising climate, although it's getting better. We need to do a better job of making that happen."

University lawyers and Smith's agent are finalizing a deal to extend the contract past the three remaining years. Smith called it "just a matter of time" before the details can be worked out.

"It's just a matter of making sure this is everything we need," he said. "Not necessarily things we want, but (we need to make sure) things we need in order to be successful are on the table and there's a timetable as far as when we can get it done."

Smith ramping up the pressure on the school comes after a season in which Minnesota lost 10 of its final 11 games and did not play in a postseason tournament. He hasn't won an NCAA tournament game after four seasons with the program.

But with a new university president set to take over in July, Smith wants to make sure the school remains on track to fulfill its commitments to what he considers to be the shared vision that he came to Minnesota for.

By speaking up about needing the administration's help in the form of the practice facility to be successful, Smith also ensures that his own future won't be a complete certainty until the thing gets done.