ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of South Florida is interested in pursuing Craig Neal as its next basketball coach, according to a report from CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish.
Reached on Thursday night, Neal told the Journal he had no comment on the report.
Neal, the first New Mexico rookie coach to take the Lobos to the NCAA Tournament, set a rookie coaching record for the program with 27 wins this season. He has completed the first of a five-year contract paying him a base salary and compensation package of $750,000 per season before performance incentive money. It also includes a mutual $1 million buyout
“He’s in the first year of a five-year contract,” UNM athletic director Paul Krebs told the Journal earlier this month, when asked if the university had interest in re-negotiating Neal’s deal. “We felt that contract was very fair when it was signed, and we look forward to Craig being here for many more years.”
As Parrish notes, USF’s new athletic director Mark Harlan worked with Steve Alford the past year at UCLA as an associate AD. Parrish reports Harlan’s high opinion of Neal has at least some to do with Alford’s high opinion of Neal, who was Alford’s associate head coach for nine years (six at UNM and three at Iowa prior to that).
USF had reached a deal this week with Manhattan coach Steve Masiello before a background check showed Masiello did not graduate from Kentucky in 2000 as his résumé stated.
Neal graduated in 1988 from Georgia Tech with a degree in management.