Larranaga accepts Miami's coaching offer

Coach Jim Larranaga speaks at a press conference.  (John Powell)

Update 6:50 p.m. Connect2Mason has video of the Tom O'Connor press conference

Men's Basketball Coach Jim Larranaga has agreed to take the vacant coaching job at the University of Miami, according to Mason Athletics.

An official announcement is expected soon, according to Athletic Director Tom O'Connor.

"We are thankful and respectful for Jim's decision," said O'Connor. "We’re thankful for all he’s done for the university and for the basketball program.  We respect his decision from a personal and a professional standpoint."

Larranaga has been in talks with the Atlantic Coast Conference team for about two weeks, according to O'Connor, but officially told Mason about his decision to resign at 9 a.m. Friday morning. Larranaga's contract at Mason ran through 2016, but according to O'Connor, Larranaga was granted permission to leave before his contract was up.

"Once we gave him permission to speak [to Miami], that was our way of saying he was free to go," said O'Connor.

News broke Thursday that Larranaga was in "serious talks" with Miami, and that O'Connor had granted the sides permission to speak. The Washington Post reported Thursday night that Larranaga was expected to speak to meet with University of Miami officials Friday morning.

"We have been working on a good strong compensation package for [Larranaga]," said O'Connor. ". . . In the end run, Miami’s an ACC school, a football school, [and] we really can't compete with the amount of money they can use for their program, or for compensation for a coach."

According to, Larranaga was scheduled to make between $525,000 and $700,000 at for the 2011-12 season, depending on bonuses. The position at Miami, according to a source in the report, is expected to pay over $1 million annually.

Players on the Patriots team expected their coach to leave, a third source said in the Post report.

Larranaga, 61, has spent 14 years at Mason, including the Cinderella year of 2006, when he coached the Patriots to their Final Four run. He is the current Colonial Athletic Association conference's Coach of the Year. 

Larranaga will replace Frank Haith, who left Miami earlier this month for the University of Missouri.

O'Connor says Mason's head men's basketball coaching position will be filled within a month. 

"Our program is in great shape [and] we have all the tools to be successful," said O'Connor. "We will begin a national search to find a good strong coach, so we can continue to be successful in the CAA and move forward in the NCAA tournament."

Larranaga and the Athletic Department both are in the process of contacting the players, according to O'Connor. A meeting is set for 1:30 p.m., where Larranaga will tell the players about his decision "if he hasn't told them already."

O'Connor also disputed claims in the story that he and Larranaga had a "rocky relationship."

"We got along quite well [and] we talked through things," said O'Connor. ". . . We’ve always had the best interest of the program and the university [in mind]."




6:50 p.m. Connect2Mason has video from the earlier Tom O'Connor Press Conference.

2:22 p.m. Mason Athletics' website has announced Larranaga's resignation.

2:08 p.m. A Mason Athletics press conference is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. The Mason Athletics website,, says a statement is forthcoming.


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