Reports: Mizzou basketball coach Frank Haith leaving for Tulsa

Frank Haith's Mizzou teams had been trending downward when he decided Thursday to leave for Tulsa.

Jasen Vinlove/Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS — With the basketball program at Missouri in disarray, Frank Haith decided to flee rather than fight. Haith is in final negotiations for the coaching job at Tulsa, multiple media outlets reported Thursday afternoon.

Haith was under contract at Missouri for $1.6 million a year through the 2016-17 season, with built-in raises of $50,000 per year, according to the Kansas City Star. Terms at Tulsa were not announced, though Haith was expected to sign a five-year deal.

Tulsa has scheduled a 1 p.m. CT Friday news conference to name its next coach.

Missouri, coming off a subpar season, is losing its three leading scorers (Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross), and Haith was looking at another season of transition.

The Tulsa job became open when Danny Manning left for Wake Forest. Details of Haith’s deal with the Golden Hurricane were not known immediately.

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There is no shortage of names being circulated by the college basketball media to succeed Haith. Among them are Purdue’s Matt Painter, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, Louisiana Tech’s Mike White, Nebraska’s Tim Miles and New Mexico’s Craig Neal. Another name to watch is Kim Anderson, a former Tigers player who coached Central Missouri to a Division II championship this season.

Missouri won its first 10 games this past season and cracked the Top 25. But the Tigers lost their first two games in SEC play and never fully recovered. They finished 9-9 in conference, and their 22-11 overall record was not good enough for the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers ended up losing to Southern Mississippi in the second round of the NIT, finishing at 23-12.

A disappointing performance on the court was not the Tigers’ only problem. Attendance at Mizzou Arena dwindled during the season, and the program ran afoul of appropriate behavior in recent weeks. Freshman guards Wes Clark and Shane Rector were arrested on marijuana possession charges before the season even ended, and last week transfer Zach Price was kicked off the team after being arrested for suspicion of assault and domestic assault.

Haith was not Missouri’s first choice when it hired him three years ago, and his job security was not helped by the past two seasons (the Tigers were 23-11 a year ago) and a tumultuous start to this offseason. Rather than stick around and try to get the program back on track, Haith decided to leave.  

He did so in a hurry. According to reports, he met with his Tigers players at 2:45 Thursday afternoon to tell them he was being considered for the Tulsa job. Then he was on a plane to Tulsa to finish negotiations.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.