Josh Pastner to stay at Memphis despite missing NCAAs again

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Memphis is sticking with coach Josh Pastner even though the school missed the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season.

University President David Rudd and athletic director Tom Bowen said in a statement Friday the school will “make the necessary investments and changes” so it can “compete at the highest level” with Pastner as coach. If Memphis fired Pastner, he would have been owed $10.6 million.

Pastner has a 167-73 record, with four NCAA Tournament bids in seven years. But the Tigers have gone a combined 37-29 without any NCAA invitations the last two seasons.

Rudd and Bowen said the men’s basketball program “operates in a manner consistent with the core values of our university and community but has fallen short in our on-court performance the last two years.”

Memphis went 19-15 this season and lost 72-58 to Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference championship game.

Hired by Memphis after he had packed his car to join former Tigers coach John Calipari at Kentucky in the spring of 2009, Pastner received a pay hike from $1.7 million to $2.65 million after Memphis went 31-5 in 2013 and won a game in the NCAA Tournament.

Pastner averaged more than 24 wins over his first six seasons. His 148 victories at that point made him the ninth-winningest coach in Division I history for his first six seasons. He joined Calipari as the only Memphis coaches to win 18 or more games each of his first six seasons.

Pastner also coached the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament four straight years (2011-14), something only Dana Kirk (1982-85) and Calipari (2006-09) managed at Memphis.

Memphis hasn’t been back to the tournament since. The Tigers’ home attendance dropped from more than 16,000 during Memphis’ last NCAA Tournament season of 2013-14 to 11,812 this season.