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Coach L Took His Talents to South Beach

This just in via email to the Mason Patriot Club:

Dear Patriot Club Members & Season Ticket Holders:

It is with mixed emotions that I write to inform you that Jim Larranaga has accepted the head coaching position at the University of Miami. From a professional standpoint, I am saddened by Jim’s departure; it is difficult to put into words what he has done for our program and the University over the past 14 years. On a personal note I wish Jim and Liz nothing but the best of success as they move on to a new chapter in their lives. They are terrific people and deserve our best wishes.

Jim has brought our basketball program to great new heights and he is leaving it in an outstanding position for our next coach. Let me assure you that during this process the University did all that it could to keep Jim here at Mason. We will immediately begin a national search to find our new head coach.

We appreciate your continued support of Mason Athletics and the basketball program.

Go Mason,

Thomas J. O’Connor
Assistant Vice President
Director of Athletics

Sorry, Chris. All the best, Coach L. Some will question the move, but Miami offers more money and better weather. Plus, as a Mason fan, I can’t say a thing to you other than you did great.

Three more quick reactions:

1. Larranaga won the best sporting event I’ve ever attended (Mason-UConn at Verizon Center for the Final Four in 2006).

2. It’s going to be weird seeing his Miami team play Maryland every year.

3. The George Mason job should have a long line of talented young coaches eager to fill Larranaga big shoes.

D.C. sports fan and digital media guy that's been doing this since 2004. Once threw a football further than Chris Cooley.



  1. Puttz

    April 22, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    This is unbelievable!

    He had almost his entire team coming back, had job security for as long as he wanted to coach, was in a hotbed for talent, was making pretty decent money (around $700k this year) and he’s in his 60s.

    Miami is in the ACC but they have never been relevant. No one down there cares. They played ACC games this year with only a few thousand fans and they weren’t that bad.

    I’m sure there is more to this story other than money, ACC and great weather.

  2. deepvalue

    April 22, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Is it too late for a Billy Donovan situation?

  3. Sav

    April 22, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    Well in 5 short years he’ll be at retiring age. So even if he doesn’t succeed, he might as well grab as much money as he can now before moving on to another job or just hanging up the whistle.

    What’s scary is that now he can recruit local talent to South Beach much easier than before. He is well known and liked in the area. I fear Miami will be a contender in less than 2 years.

  4. Kev29

    April 22, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    It’s always funny to me when people are confused/outraged/judgmental about someone choosing to accept a $500,000 raise. Wouldn’t you??

    Larranaga leaving the cupboard full is a move out of respect for the university and the legacy that he built. Life goes on after a successful coach leaves… IF the university and AD support the program as a whole. I don’t know if Mason’s success was all down to Larranaga or if it was a university wide goal, but they can still be very relevant from here on. I know about this stuff because I went to Xavier, where we’ve had three different coaches take teams to the Sweet Sixteen (and two Elite Eights) in the past 8 years.

  5. Puttz

    April 22, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    If it’s a cash grab then fine, but you have to consider that making $500,000 more a year is great if you continue to make that every year. What if the program doesn’t succeed (and Miami never has) and you are fired in 4 years? But could have stayed at Mason for 10? Long run, Mason might be worth more. Plus, the man never has to buy a drink again if he stays put. With my taste for the booze, that’s worth a lot.

  6. D.Fox

    April 22, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Was Mason unwilling to match the offer? If so, that’s a damn shame.

  7. kip

    April 22, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    At least he didn’t have an ESPN special

  8. Kev29

    April 22, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    “Was Mason unwilling to match the offer? If so, that’s a damn shame.”

    George Mason University paying a coach 1.2 mil+??? That would be insane. I’m amazed he was making 700k, really. That’s on the high side already for a non-BCS conference coach. And when you’re talking about 7 figure salaries, a good portion of that money is coming from boosters – or alumni groups. Though Mason has done a terrific job turning a commuter university into a basketball, I somehow doubt they’ve got a lot of old alums committed to bankrolling the program.

  9. Sav

    April 22, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    Well if the program doesn’t succeed he will already have a house in Florida to retire to.

  10. Terps77

    April 23, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    “Let me assure you that during this process the University did all that it could to keep Jim here at Mason.”

    Except pay him what he wanted to be paid. Enjoy the Larranaga Wings, Mason students and keep in mind Shaka Smarts’ gotz to get paid!

  11. ILM

    April 26, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    Dude JL saw Shaka get to seven figures after one great season and he wanted to be offered the same. No chance do I think VCU has more $$ laying around than Mason. And rumors continue to grumble that O’Connor thought he was bigger than JL. News to OC, you are replaceable, JL will prove he isn’t.

    Also, you can never forget when people make the move to Florida that there is no state income tax. That is a big chunk of $$ JL will keep that he wouldnt have in VA. And that’s in addition to the raise.

    To everyone who sees Mason staying relevant, I just don’t see it. I think VCU takes over the top spot in the CAA with JL’s departure.

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