FGCU fans everywhere can breathe a huge sigh of relief: Karl Smesko isn’t going anywhere.
The women’s basketball coach who founded the Eagles program turned down an offer to become the head coach at USC.
Smesko confirmed that he is staying put at FGCU in a text message Friday afternoon.
USC offered the position to the Eagles’ coach earlier this week, according to multiple sources including SB Nation affiliate Swish Appeal after Smesko visited Los Angeles on Monday for an interview.
Since beginning play in the 2002-03 season, Smesko is 404-82 at FGCU and 271-61 since moving to Division I.
Smesko made $233,000 last season at FGCU. The USC position was reportedly offering around $300,000.
USC now finds itself in a precarious position. The other reported finalist for the job, Long Beach State coach Jody Wynn, accepted the head coaching job at Washington on Friday. Last week, Stanford assistant Kaye Paye turned down the Trojans offer to stay in Palo Alto.
The Eagles are coming off of perhaps Smesko’s most impressive year yet, taking a fully revamped and turned over roster to a 26-9 record and their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance. The Eagles lost to No. 4 seed Miami 62-60 in Coral Gables in the first round on a last-second shot in a disputed finish with multiple no-calls that arguably should’ve gone the Eagles way.
Next season’s roster adds Southern Mississippi transfer and Dunbar High grad Kara Jewett to a core with significantly less turnover, losing grad transfer Jordin Alexander, reserve guard Sydnei McCaskill, and sharpshooting guard Haley Laughter, who is leaving early to attend dental school.
COACHING ROLLER COASTER COMING TO A STOP
FGCU has a pair of popular basketball coaches in Smesko and men’s basketball coach Joe Dooley, and that sentence isn’t changing to past tense, it appears.
Dooley was connected to a pair of jobs this offseason, interviewing with UNC-Wilmington and New Mexico. Wilmington hired longtime UNC assistant C.B. McGrath, while New Mexico introduced New Mexico State coach Paul Weir as their new coach Tuesday.
It seems that for now, FGCU fans can step off the coaching roller coaster. The car has come to a complete stop for another year.
© 2017 Naples Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.