SMU made a splash in the coaching carousel in 2012 when it hired Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown as head coach. The hire marked Brown’s return to college coaching for the first time since 1988 when he was on the Kansas sidelines.
How did SMU lure Brown, a coach who had won a title in the NCAA and the NBA, to Dallas?
According to a report from Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, the school was able to land Brown by nearly quadrupling the basketball coach’s salary. Brown was hired in April 2012, and in the remaining eight months of that year Brown made a sum of $1.9 million in total compensation, according to Berkowitz.
On an annualized basis, that put Brown’s pay at almost $2.8 million. SMU tax records showed [Matt] Doherty being credited with about $635,000 in 2011 and just over $650,000 in 2012, including just over $485,000 in severance pay.
The Mustangs were set to move into the Big East (which then became the newly-formed American Athletic Conference) in 2013, and the acquisition of Brown paid off immediately in terms of on the floor success, recruiting and fan interest.
The renovated Moody Coliseum saw six sellouts in the final two months of the 2013-2014 season, as the Mustangs cracked the top 25 for the first time since the 1984-1985 season. While SMU was snubbed from the NCAA tournament due to its weak non-conference schedule, SMU is projected for a big upcoming season. The Ponies are ranked No. 10 in the College Basketball Talk Way-To-Early Top 25.
Leading scorers Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy return, with Moore joined by Emmanuel Mudiay, the No. 2 overall recruit in the Class of 2014, in the back court. SMU is also a finalist for five-star center Myles Turner, the No. 9 overall recruit, according to Rivals.
SMU president Gerald Turner has been for reform in college athletics, but has clearly seen the benefits of big spending.