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Asked about LSU, Floyd says he’s staying

Times Staff Writer

Tim Floyd repeatedly refused to comment Tuesday on whether he had been contacted by Louisiana State athletic officials about their basketball coaching vacancy, instead reaffirming his intention to remain with the Trojans.

“I’ve said from day one that this is my last job, so there’s nothing else to say. It’s a non-story,” Floyd said. “I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”

Eddie Nunez, LSU’s associate athletic director for operations, said he could not comment on the coaching search. Late last month, Nunez told a reporter for Gannett News that “we’re not calling any coaches during the season even if it’s just to get an opinion on a coach,” a stance that appears to contradict a report Tuesday that LSU officials had contacted Floyd.

A consultant in the coaching search who has met with LSU officials in Baton Rouge said the school’s top choice remained Virginia Commonwealth Coach Anthony Grant, who has close ties to Nunez. Grant and Nunez attended the same Miami high school and Nunez played at Florida while Grant was an assistant under Billy Donovan.

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“They want somebody who is going to be there for 15 years,” said the consultant, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I think Anthony is their guy, and that’s who they’re going to get.”

Grant, 41, guided VCU to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2007 in his first season as a college head coach. The Rams (24-7) lost to William and Mary on Sunday in the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Assn. tournament and are considered a bubble team.

Other potential candidates for the LSU opening include Massachusetts’ Travis Ford, Washington State’s Tony Bennett, Missouri’s Mike Anderson, Southern Illinois’ Chris Lowery and Tigers interim Coach Butch Pierre.

The consultant said Floyd’s expected price tag, which he estimated from $1.5 million to $2 million a season, would preclude LSU from hiring him. Floyd, who is in the third year of the five-year contract he signed in January 2005, has a reported annual base salary of $850,000 at USC.

Floyd has compiled a 62-35 record in three seasons at USC and has the Trojans (20-10 overall, 11-7 Pacific 10 Conference) nearing a second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. Last season, he guided USC to its first Sweet 16 appearance in six years.

A source in Baton Rouge with ties to Floyd said the coach told him that while the LSU job was attractive in part because his elderly mother lived in neighboring Mississippi and his wife’s parents reside in northern Louisiana, Floyd wanted to keep his word to USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett when he said the Trojans’ job would be his last.

Garrett declined to comment through a school spokesman, but a source close to the athletic department said Garrett recently assured Floyd that he wanted him at the school long-term.

Floyd’s Louisiana connections run deep. Growing up, he found summer employment as a gofer for the New Orleans Saints, and he graduated from Louisiana Tech. He eventually coached at the University of New Orleans for six years and later guided the New Orleans Hornets to the NBA playoffs during the 2003-04 season.

Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker attended practice to prepare for a role as the coach of a Louisiana high school team that won a state title after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com


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