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Miami lures Larranaga

April 23, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

CORAL GABLES (AP) - Jim Larranaga has taken the Miami Hurricanes' basketball job after 14 years at George Mason, including an improbable run to the Final Four in 2006.

Larranaga called George Mason athletic director Tom O'Connor Friday morning to say he accepted Miami's offer. The Hurricanes scheduled an evening news conference to introduced their new coach, who replaces Frank Haith.

"Coach Larranaga is the real deal," Miami president Donna Shalala said in a statement. "He's a winner, an inspirational leader, and he cares deeply about his players and staff."

Larranaga, 61, led the Patriots to five NCAA tournament berths and went 273-164, setting a school record for victories. This season his team went 27-7 and reached the third round of the tournament before losing to overall No. 1 seed Ohio State.

Larranaga helped the Patriots win three titles in the Colonial Athletic Association. Now he moves to the Atlantic Coast Conference, where the Hurricanes were 43-69 the past seven seasons under Haith.

"Jim can coach at any level," O'Connor said. "He could probably coach the Los Angeles Lakers if he wanted to."

Miami officials declined to comment. The hiring was made by Shawn Eichorst only nine days after he became the Hurricanes' athletic director.

Haith left for Missouri after going 129-101 at Miami, including 21-15 this past season.

Larranaga's contract at George Mason, which ran until 2016, had a base salary of $525,000. The school offered him a package including incentive bonuses that would have put him in the top five among mid-major coaches in compensation, O'Connor said, but even that deal couldn't compete with Miami's resources.

Unlike the Hurricanes, George Mason does not have a football program.

"In all honesty, the university can only go so far with finances," O'Connor said. "We think we put together a very, very attractive financial compensation package. We couldn't compete with an ACC school, a big football school with its budget."



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