UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. SMU officials had offered the men's basketball job to Florida Atlantic coach Matt Doherty, sources said.
Doherty is contemplating taking the position and is discussing it with his staff in Boca Raton, Fla., and with people familiar with the SMU basketball program. Calls Friday to Doherty and officials at Florida Atlantic weren't returned.
Incoming SMU athletic director Steve Orsini said the school was talking to candidates, though the search had been narrowed down.
"Things are still open," Orsini said. "We haven't offered the job. It all depends on the two parties coming together."
Orsini said he hoped a coach would be in place next week. SMU officials must replace Jimmy Tubbs, who was fired in early April.
Doherty was picked by SMU officials over former Arizona State and Mississippi coach Rob Evans. Both coaches interviewed with Orsini this week. Orsini, currently the AD at Central Florida, was in town the last two days before leaving Friday for Orlando, Fla.
If Doherty declines the job, SMU then would focus on Evans.
Doherty and SMU officials were talking about terms of a contract and certain potential changes within the basketball program. Doherty apparently is looking for more money for the basketball budget, from recruiting dollars to higher salaries for assistants.
SMU officials would like to renovate aging Moody Coliseum and add a practice facility. SMU has raised close to $4 million for the project and needs a total of $12 million to complete it.
Doherty and other coaches who talked to SMU about the job also expressed concern about the ongoing NCAA investigation. Retiring SMU athletic director Jim Copeland is handling the investigation with the NCAA. SMU has completed its investigation into potential rules violations committed by Tubbs. SMU president Gerald Turner said recently the NCAA was examining the school's findings.
After being away from coaching for two seasons, Doherty was hired in April 2005 by Florida Atlantic. He led the team to a 15-13 finish. Prior to Florida Atlantic, Doherty coached at Notre Dame (1999-2000) and North Carolina (2000-03).
The UNC alum left the Fighting Irish to pursue his dream job in Chapel Hill. But after three difficult years there, he was fired.
The offer to Doherty was somewhat of a surprise because Evans was a teammate of Turner's at Lubbock Christian. Also, when Turner was the president at Mississippi, he hired Evans as coach.
But Orsini wanted to make a splash with his new hire, and Doherty - with his Carolina and Notre Dame roots - appears to be it.