Grand Canyon University hires Pennell

Russ Pennell, who led Arizona to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament as an interim coach, will take over the men's basketball program at Division II Grand Canyon University.

A formal announcement was made Thursday at Grand Canyon's Phoenix campus.

Pennell will replace Dan Nichols at Grand Canyon, which is petitioning to step up to Division I and is planning to build a 6,000-seat arena.

Pennell declined comment when contacted on Wednesday, the Arizona Republic reported.

Pennell, a 47-year-old former assistant coach and radio broadcaster for Arizona State, took over as an interim coach for Lute Olson at Arizona and led the Wildcats to a 21-14 record and the school's 25th consecutive NCAA appearance.

Arizona opted to go in a different direction after the season and hired former Xavier coach Sean Miller.