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Shaka Smart Turns Down Illini

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VCU head coach Shaka Smart. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

VCU head coach Shaka Smart. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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(CBS) VCU head coach Shaka Smart has turned down Illinois’ offer to become the next Illini men’s basketball coach.

“There are great things to accomplish at VCU and I’m looking forward to building on the successes of our program and university,” Smart said in a statement released by VCU.

The statement also said Smart is not pursuing any other coaching jobs.

The Illini offered Smart at least $2.5 million a year, but Smart, who currently earns a base salary of $1.15 million a year at VCU, has decided to stay in Richmond, Va. for now.

Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas has been pursuing Smart hard since firing Bruce Weber March 9. Now that Smart is out of the picture, the coaching search will open up to a number of candidates.

Washington’s Lorenzo Romar, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton and Marquette’s Buzz Williams have all been linked to the opening, among others. Alabama’s Anthony Grant is reportedly not interested in the job.

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