April 12, 2010 5:57:00 PM
David Miller -
STARKVILLE -- Rumors rippled through the Mississippi State fan base Monday morning, as news broke that head basketball coach Rick Stansbury was in line to be the next head coach at Clemson.
Reports surfaced via The Sporting News, FoxSports and the Charleston Observer that linked Stansbury to the vacancy created by Oliver Purnell, who surprisingly left for the DePaul job last week.
But Stansbury, who has spent the last 12 years as MSU''s head coach and 20 overall counting his time as an assistant, held a 2 p.m. press conference to announce he was staying put.
The Southeastern Conference''s second-longest tenured head coach wouldn''t discuss the offer he received from Clemson nor the rumors reported via FoxSports'' Jeff Goodman of whether his buyout figure with MSU played a role in turning down the offer.
Instead, with his wife, Meo, and three sons present, Stansbury said it was a decision that "was best for his family" and not about the money.
Purnell made $1.3 million at Clemson last season, and Stansbury likely would have made more than that figure and the $1.2 million he made last season at MSU. The rumored contract amount Stansbury had on the table was $2 million annually.
"There was no way I could walk away from what our fans and everybody has established," Stansbury said. "I haven''t never been a coach that tried to get my name involved somewhere, but when another team comes I owed it to my family to listen. But through this process, it''s made me realize how special an opportunity we have here and how good these people have been to us. That''s something no money or the time we''ve invested here can change."
Stansbury said he consulted Florida head coach Billy Donovan, who after winning the 2007 NCAA title accepted an offer to coach the Orlando Magic only to change his mind and return to Florida three days later.
"Billy''s like myself, he''s had longevity," Stansbury said. "As he told me, he took a job for three days and it was probably the most miserable three days of his life even though financially he was going to do real well. He said, ''Rick, are you comfortable and are you happy?''
"There wasn''t any question or doubt about either one of those. That made it very clear for us."
Despite not going into detail about his meeting with Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips Saturday north of Atlanta, Stansbury said the Tigers'' brass made the opportunity to coach the Tigers "very intriguing." So much so that he and his family seriously pondered the move to South Carolina.
"Trust me, my wife would throw some gasoline on it and come right behind and throw some water on it," Stansbury said.
After negotiations took place Saturday between Clemson and Stansbury''s agent, Jimmy Sexton, Stansbury met with MSU president Dr. Mark Keenum and his wife, Rhonda.
Stansbury lauded Keenum''s commitment to athletics in the future at MSU as one of the influences in his decision to stay. He mentioned the $12 million basketball practice facility as another reason to remain in Starkville, along with what he called "a loyal fan base."
But something he said that didn''t factor into his decision is the university''s search for a new athletic director, with Greg Byrne set to depart for the University of Arizona on May 1.
Byrne gave Stansbury a raise to his current $235,000 base salary, which doesn''t include the Bulldog Foundation supplement that pushes the deal to the $1.2 million mark, when he signed a contract extension last year.
Stansbury said the deal wasn''t about leveraging a raise with MSU.
"It wasn''t about money. It wasn''t about money at MSU," Stansbury said. "I''m coming back not expecting no raise."
Byrne, who sat in on the press conference, said he anticipates extending Stansbury''s contract back to four years similar to what the athletic department did with Stansbury, football coach Dan Mullen and baseball coach John Cohen.
"Just like any year, we''ll sit down and go through contract. Right now, we anticipate getting him back to four years like we did last year," Byrne said. "That''s all, and we''re on the same page with that. We''re happy Rick Stansbury is the basketball coach at Mississippi State. That''s a good end result for our athletic department."
Stansbury, who owns the school''s all-time record for career wins with 255. He owns nine 20-win seasons, six NCAA tournament berths, one outright SEC title, five SEC West titles and a pair of SEC tournament titles.
Despite the consistent track record in the league, there''s been growing discontent amongst some of the MSU fans over the Bulldogs failure to make much noise in the postseason.
When asked if there were any negatives that could have factored into his decision to possibly leave, Stansbury deflected back to the strong fan base.
"When you''re weighing things out, you start trying to think about things that you don''t like or wish it wasn''t this way. But I''m going to tell you, when you start going through it, what is there not to like," Stansbury said. "I mean, hey, we''ve got some of the best fans in the Southeastern Conference, loyal fans. And that don''t mean they''re happy with everything we do, that''s just part of it. I''m like them, I want to win every game but you''re not going to win every game.
"But when you slow down and break this process down, the positives outweigh the negatives. And what those negatives are, I''m not sure now after going through this process. It''s not with our fans. It''s not with our program winning."