Doherty leaves Florida Atlantic for SMU job

Updated: April 24, 2006, 7:30 PM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- SMU hired former national coach of the year Matt Doherty on Monday to try reviving a program that hasn't gone to the NCAA Tournament in 13 years.

AP/Gerry BroomeSMU is the fourth stop in Matt Doherty's tenuous coaching career.

Doherty signed a five-year deal, but financial terms weren't disclosed. Doherty, coming off a 15-13 season at Florida Atlantic, replaces former Oklahoma assistant basketball coach Jimmy Tubbs, who was fired April 6 after two losing seasons and an internal investigation that uncovered NCAA violations.

"I look at this as a destination job," Doherty said. "I didn't want to take a job to take another job."

Doherty, who won a national championship as a player for North Carolina, broke into coaching with Notre Dame in 1999-2000. He took over the Tar Heels the next season and earned the coach of the year award from The Associated Press for going 26-7 and winning a share of the regular-season ACC title.

North Carolina missed the NCAA field the next two years, and Doherty resigned under pressure in April 2003. He worked as a television analyst for two years and then spent this past season at Florida Atlantic.

"I didn't value experience so much when I was younger because I thought I knew it all," said the 44-year-old Doherty. "But the thing I've learned is that coaching is 50 percent the science of coaching, which is Xs and Os, and 50 percent is the art of coaching. And that's the relationships, the leadership, and that's an area I've worked very hard in improving."

Doherty's high profile should be a boost for SMU, which hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 1993.

"I want to put a system in place to put in a program that you all will be excited about. With the commitment we have here, why can't we be a top 25 team?" he said.

New athletic director Steve Orsini said it was an easy choice for the school's 18-member search committee.

"This is definitely a great day for SMU athletics," he said. "It was a very quick and strong consensus for Matt Doherty."

Sophomore guard Derrick Roberts said he believes Doherty can revive the program.

"The first time I heard his name, I stopped listening to all the things about the other candidates," Roberts said.

Tubbs spent 12 years as an SMU assistant and then two at Oklahoma and was a popular pick when he was hired. His teams went 27-30, including 13-16 this past season, but school officials said the NCAA violations were the main reason he was fired.

James Stafford and Malcolm Farmer, assistants under Doherty at Florida Atlantic, are coming to SMU with him. Rex Walters, Doherty's top assistant, is a candidate for the Florida Atlantic head coaching job. He could join the SMU staff if he's not promoted, Doherty said.

The Mustangs haven't won a postseason game -- NCAA or NIT -- since 1988, when they beat Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Duke. They lost in the first round of the NIT in their only postseason appearance since 1993.

Orsini believes Doherty can change that.

"He's a teacher, and you have to show your pupils that you care," Orsini said. "He'll be a great teacher because of his experience."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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