SMU is expected to give new head coach Tim Jankovich a contract of at least five years in length with a salary that would put him in the top tier of the American Athletic Conference, once negotiations are complete, according to a source.
Jankovich wouldn't comment on the negotiations on Tuesday. But he did discuss Larry Brown's abrupt decision on Friday to step down as the Mustangs' head coach after four seasons in Dallas.
"I didn't know in advance,'' Jankovich said Tuesday night of Brown's decision.
SMU athletic director Rick Hart said Friday that the school had offered Brown a contract to coach until 2020, but Brown chose instead to resign. Jankovich said Brown told him by phone that he was resigning. Jankovich didn't want to discuss Brown's contract issues with the school.
Jankovich said he never discussed with Brown the timing of succeeding him. But he said it was predetermined that he would be the successor when he left his head-coaching job at Illinois State to join Brown four years ago.
Jankovich said it wasn't a handshake deal or he would never have left what he said was a top-25 team with the Redbirds. He said there was an agreement in place that he would receive a contract to replace Brown when he left.
Jankovich had been the head coach at Illinois State from 2007-12. He was also a head coach at North Texas from 1993-97.
Jankovich said the timing of Brown's departure wasn't ideal. Summer recruiting began last week. SMU is also coming off an NCAA postseason ban in 2016 (violations included academic fraud and unethical conduct) after winning the regular-season and conference tournament titles in 2015.
The Mustangs, Jankovich said, would have 11 players on scholarship for the 2016-17 season, and likely 11 in 2017-18, as sanctions continue for the next two years. The Mustangs had to lose nine scholarships over three years, but since they used only 11 of 13 in the year of the sanctions, the actual reduction of scholarships was seven over the next three seasons.
"We suffered some big losses, but I still think we will be in competition for the top of the AAC,'' said Jankovich of losing Nic Moore (whom he brought with him from Illinois State), Markus Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert. "We won't be big on numbers, but we still have opportunities for good things this upcoming year.''
Jankovich said the decision to leave Illinois State was still one of the toughest he had to make. But he said he believed in SMU and was convinced the program could be a national power.
"I believed in Coach Brown,'' said Jankovich. "It played out. This is what I thought would happen.''
Jankovich wasn't referring to the NCAA violations that led to a postseason ban and a nine-game suspension for Brown last season -- Jankovich coached the team to a 9-0 record during that time -- under the coach's control penalty. Instead, he was referencing the Mustangs' 94-39 record over the past four years, the revival of Moody Coliseum and putting SMU basketball back on the national map.
Jankovich said the Mustangs could have played in three NCAA tournaments, instead of just one. SMU was considered one of the final snubs in year two of the Brown-Jankovich tenure and would have likely been an NCAA tournament team in year four had it not been for a postseason ban. SMU went to the NCAA tournament in year three.
"I'm at a program that is competing at the highest level,'' said Jankovich. "I left a team that was going to be in the top 25. I know it was. But I love Dallas. I love SMU. I always thought it would be a sleeping giant. But it's not sleeping anymore.''