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Report: USF's courtship of Charlie Strong to include visit to Tampa

A private plane owned by a prominent University of Texas athletics booster arrives at Tampa International Airport around lunchtime on Dec. 9, 2016. [MATT BAKER | Times]
A private plane owned by a prominent University of Texas athletics booster arrives at Tampa International Airport around lunchtime on Dec. 9, 2016. [MATT BAKER | Times]
Published Dec. 10, 2016

TAMPA — USF's pursuit of Charlie Strong for its football coaching vacancy stretched into its second full day Friday amid reports Strong also is being courted by former Bulls coach Willie Taggart.

A Learjet owned by a prominent University of Texas athletics booster arrived at Tampa International Airport around lunchtime Friday. The plane's owner, Gary H. Martin, is the father of a former Longhorns catcher. Martin reportedly sat in on at least one interview when UT was pursuing a new baseball coach this past summer.

Passengers exited the plane on the side opposite a waiting area, where at least one vehicle waited nearby and couldn't be seen. The flight's arrival coincided with various published reports that Strong was meeting with USF.

Texas fired Strong, 56, as its coach after three seasons in November. The relationship between Martin and Strong is unclear, but considering that USF's hiring of Strong would save the Longhorns some money, it could stand to reason a booster would allow Strong use of his plane.

Texas owes Strong roughly $10 million, which equates to the final two years of base salary, according to terms of his contract. If he lands another job during his payout period, he must pay Texas 50 percent of what he earns at his new position, the contract states.

Meantime, 247Sports reported that Taggart is trying to hire the former Texas and Louisville coach as his defensive coordinator at Oregon.

Times staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report. Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com.