By Tyler Conway
 UCLA will reportedly have to look outside the greater Richmond area to hire its next head coach. According to Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel, Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart told the Bruins Wednesday that he will be staying with the Rams—for now and long into the future.

Smart, 35, will sign an extension with VCU that will keep him with the school until 2023. The contract will pay Smart $1.5 million per season, which represents a 25 percent raise from the $1.2 million he made in 2012-13. 

While the $300,000 seems like a pittance in the world of major college basketball (and it is), Smart’s extension seems heavily focused on keeping VCU’s program on its rapid ascent. According to Thamel, the rising star coach asked for improvements mostly pertaining to his staff and players:

A majority of what Smart asked VCU for was improvements for his staff and program. That includes more salary for his staff and a bevy of things like better meals for players, improved travel for the program and other perks for his staff.

Selfless as that may seem, Smart appears to be making a calculated move. He’s likelybanking on the increases in assistant salary allowing him to keep top-notch coaches and that the improvements in player amenities could lure some major talent to Richmond. 


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Most of all, Smart is banking on himself to create a juggernaut in the Atlantic 10 conference. 

Just four years into his tenure at the school, Smart is already well on his way. He took over a program already on the rise under Anthony Grant and has made it one of the nation’s preeminent mid-majors.

VCU famously became the first team in NCAA history to advance from the “First Four” to the Final Four in 2011, a run that introduced Smart to the nation as a coach to be reckoned with. Running Smart’s patented “Havoc” defense, VCU has four straight seasons with 27 wins and three straight NCAA tournament appearances. 

An underrated sleeper heading into the 2013 NCAA tournament, Smart’s Rams disappointed a bit this year. They were eviscerated by Michigan in the round of 32, a game that many had pegged VCU to win.

It has been one of just a select few disappointments during Smart’s tenure at VCU, and now it looks like he’ll have many more opportunities to create positive memories at the school.