UGA, Tom Crean to discuss basketball coaching job

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 basketball coaching market: Tom Crean.

Crean, the former Indiana and Marquette head coach, was contacted by Georgia on Wednesday, an industry source confirmed on Thursday morning. It is not known if Georgia is talking to other candidates, just that Crean is one of the coaches it is speaking to.

Thad Matta, the former Ohio State head coach, turned down Georgia’s five-year offer of at least $16 million on Wednesday. Matta had been in Athens on both Monday and Tuesday and was clearly 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 on Wednesday. Crean was Indiana’s head coach for nine years, taking the Hoosiers to the Sweet 16 on three occasions, and prior to that he took Marquette to the Final Four in 2003.

Crean’s career record is 356-201. While he has never coached in the deep 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 are still coaching for at least a few more days.

There has been interest in Earl Grant, the College of Charleston head coach, but his team plays Auburn on Friday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Georgia could speak to Grant’s representatives between now and then, 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.