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Heavily-Sought NCAA Coach To Stay At Mid-Major

11:44 PM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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(USA Today Sports) -- The Shaka Smart sweepstakes is over, and, once again, the winner is Virginia Commonwealth University.

Despite garnering interest from high-major basketball programs -- including UCLA and Minnesota -- Smart has agreed to a contract extension at VCU, the school confirmed Wednesday night.

Smart's deal will run through 2023, and he will make about $1.5 million per year, a person with direct knowledge of the contract negotiations told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday night. The person spoke under the condition of anonymity because the school hasn't publicly announced details of Smart's contract extension. SI.com first reported news of Smart's extension Wednesday night.

Changes in his contract have been agreed to in principle, and the details are being finalized, the school said.

"Coach Smart has demonstrated through this process that he is loyal to VCU and his greatest concern lies with our program moving forward every year," VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin said in a statement. "Our goal was to present him with a revised agreement proactively rather than wait for another institution to step in with an offer.

"I believe we accomplished our goal."

Talks this week focused less on compensation and more on program enhancements -- such as chartered flights, training table, video system upgrades and weight room upgrades, the person said. Smart also wanted more compensation for his staff, the person added.

VCU and Smart did not begin discussing his contract until the Rams' season ended, and the school is happy that it's locked up its coach, a rising star in the coaching profession.

After the Rams' Final Four run in 2011, VCU kept Smart by signing him to an eight-year contract extension and increasing his guaranteed money from about $420,000 to about $1.2 million. He also got more money in his recruiting and travel budgets, then-athletic director Norwood Teague said.

In recent years, Smart, 35, has chosen to remain at VCU amid openings at North Carolina State and Illinois, among others. The person said UCLA would not interview Smart if he signed an extension with VCU.

The decision to stay at VCU is not altogether surprising. Smart told USA TODAY Sports in November that he was happy in Richmond, and his family was, too. He's always put a premium on working and living somewhere that makes him happy.

"You're coming to work every day to hopefully enjoy what you do. Learn, be better and be challenged," Smart said. "I have that opportunity here. There were some great opportunities that were out there, but this was really less about those opportunities and more about my desire to be here.

"The media can sometimes oversimplify these types of things and say that if someone leaves, they're all of the sudden greedy or selfish or they're in it for themselves or the money. If they stay, they're a great person or whatever. Just like me, you or anyone in a job, they're going to do what's best for them and their family. Be somewhere where their family is happy and where you're valued or appreciated. It just so happens that for me, I feel that way about VCU."

Smart just finished his fourth season with the Rams.

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