Tubby Smith has been the coach at Memphis for the past two seasons and Penny Hardaway played for the Tigers from 1991-93.
Penny Hardaway will be the top candidate to replace Tubby Smith at Memphis if the coach is fired, Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reports.
According to multiple reports, Smith is scheduled to meet with the school president Tuesday and it is expected that an official announcement of his firing will come shortly after.
Smith has been the coach at Memphis for two seasons. The Tigers went 19-13 his first season and 21-13 in 2017, but failed to reach the NCAA tournament either year. This was the fourth consecutive season Memphis has failed to make the NCAA tournament.
Hardaway is currently coaching at Memphis East high school and has his team in position to win a state title if it can win three more games in the Tennessee state playoffs. He also has a Nike EYBL team—Team Penny—and between his two squads, he is linked to some of the top recruits for 2019, according to Parrish. A source told Parrish, "Penny gives (Memphis fans) something to believe in."
Smith is still owed $9.75 million from the school, according to Parrish, but for Memphis, paying the buyout could be well worth it. According to Mark Giannotto of USA Today Sports, attendance for the Tigers this season was the lowest in almost 50 years at around 6,000 people in attendance for home games. Memphis is also missing out on up to $800,000 they can get from the Memphis Grizzlies by hitting certain attendance goals when playing in FedExForum. Parrish adds that in addition to drops in season-ticket sales, donations that generally come with season-ticket sales were down more than $1 million.