ATHENS — A day after losing out on their first target, Georgia officials have moved on and made contact with the other big name on the college basketball coaching market: Tom Crean.
Crean, the former Indiana and Marquette coach, was contacted by Georgia on Wednesday, an industry source confirmed Thursday morning. It is not known whether Georgia is talking to other candidates, just that Crean is one of the coaches it is speaking to.
Thad Matta, the former Ohio State coach, turned down Georgia’s five-year offer of at least $16 million on Wednesday. Matta had been in Athens on Monday and Tuesday and clearly was the initial target for Georgia.
This is not the first time Georgia has reached out to Crean: After Mark Fox was fired last Saturday, representatives for Georgia contacted Crean, but it did not go further than that until after Matta turned down UGA.
Crean, who will turn 52 next week, has at least one other suitor: Pittsburgh interviewed him earlier this week, ESPN reported Wednesday. Crean was Indiana’s coach for nine years, taking the Hoosiers to the Sweet 16 three times. He took Marquette to the Final Four in 2003.
Crean’s career record is 356-201. While he has never coached in the South, there is one likely connection on the Georgia staff. Matt Bucklin, who is Georgia’s operations director, is the nephew of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who is close with Crean.
One benefit to speaking to Crean now is that he’s free to talk, while other potential candidates might still be coaching for at least a few more days.
There has been interest in College of Charleston coach Earl Grant, but his team plays Auburn on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Georgia could speak to Grant’s representatives, but an official interview would have to wait.
The same would be the case with Shaka Smart, the Texas coach who had a brief overlap at Florida (where he was an assistant) while Greg McGarity was there.