March 15, 2011COLLEGE BASKETBALL PAGE
SAINT MARY'S PAGE
Saint Mary's basketball coach Randy Bennett is a leading candidate to fill the vacancy at the University of Utah, and according to a source there have been preliminary talks between Utah's athletic administration and representatives from Bennett's camp.
No timeline has been identified for the discussions, but the conversations likely took place in Las Vegas last week during the Mountain West Tournament. Bennett had been in Las Vegas with the Gaels for the West Coast Conference tournament, where they fell to Gonzaga in the final on Monday.
NEWS: Saint Mary's upset in first round of NIT
Utah was in Las Vegas for the Mountain West Conference tourney, which concluded Saturday.
Tuesday night, Saint Mary's was eliminated in the first round of the NIT, falling 71-70 in Moraga to Kent State. Afterward, Bennett addressed the Utah situation, responding to a question about whether he'd interviewed for the position.
"It's irresponsible reporting if somebody said that," Bennett said.
Utah fired coach Jim Boylen on Saturday and a handful of names have emerged as possible candidates in addition to Bennett. Among them are Virginia's Tony Bennett and former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried.
RELATED: Utes fire Boylen after four seasons
Utah joins the Pac-12 next year and Bennett has been a hot candidate to move from his position at a mid-major to a conference with a higher profile, and significantly higher salaries.
He has led Saint Mary's to four consecutive 20-win seasons and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances.
Utah athletic director Chris Hill told the Deseret News of Utah that there is no timeline, and he isn't in a rush to hire a replacement for Boylen.
"There's not an arbitrary set qualifications or a timeline," Hill told the newspaper. "We've just got to do our research and get the best person we can here. It's an attractive job, given our history, our facility and moving into the Pac-12. We feel we can do our research and find somebody good."