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VCU coach Smart rebuffs Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart ended speculation that he might take the job at Illinois by announcing Wednesday that he'll stay with the Rams.

Smart's $1.2 million contract will be adjusted, VCU said in a news release, but the school provided no details. Smart, 34, said in the release that he appreciates VCU's support of him and his staff.

Smart guided VCU to its only Final Four last season. The Rams won a school-record 29 games and the Colonial Athletic Association title this season.

USF coach Stan Heath, whose team had its first-ever NCAA Tournament victories last week, has been mentioned as a possible candidate for openings, including Illinois, which fired Bruce Weber on March 9. But he said Wednesday that he hasn't been contacted about any jobs and is happy with the Bulls.

"It's flattering, but I really love being here at USF," Heath said. "I definitely like the direction we're going. I know our guys are excited. Since we got back, they've been working and trying to get themselves ready for next season. I think we're in a good place, and I love the guys we have coming in."

NIT: Rodney Williams and Andre Hollins scored 24 each to help Minnesota (22-14) advance to the semifinals with a 78-72 win over host Middle Tennessee (27-7). The Gophers face Washington at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. … Josh Owens and Chasson Randle scored 15 each to help host Stanford (24-11) beat Nevada (28-7) 84-56. The Cardinal meets UMass on Tuesday.

TARK RESTING: Doctors at a Las Vegas hospital decided to keep former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, 81, overnight for observation after a mild heart attack; the original plan was to release him, a hospital spokeswoman said. Mountainview Hospital spokeswoman Amanda Powell said Tarkanian's status had not changed, and he was still doing "very well."

IOWA STATE: Sophomore forward Royce White, the Big 12 newcomer of the year, said he's leaving after one season and declaring for the NBA draft.

MICHIGAN: Sophomore forward Evan Smotrycz, freshman guard Carlton Brundidge and sophomore forward Colton Christian all intend to transfer.

MARYLAND: Guard Terrell Stoglin, the ACC leader with 21.6 points per game, announced he will return for his junior year.

NEBRASKA: Apparently in response to an Omaha newspaper report that Wichita State's Gregg Marshall turned down a $2 million offer to become coach, athletic director Tom Osborne issued a statement saying that the school has not offered the job to anyone.

RUTGERS: Forward Gilvydas Biruta is leaving the program and intends to transfer.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

VCU coach Smart rebuffs Illinois 03/21/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 22, 2012 12:57am]

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