Tubby says he's happy, healthy; new deal not done

Tubby Smith
Minnesota coach Tubby Smith speaks to reporters during an NCAA college basketball media day, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, in Minneapolis.
AP Photo/Jim Mone

Minnesota Gophers men's basketball coach Tubby Smith says he's healthy and still cancer-free.

His contract extension is not yet settled, however.

Smith said his most recent medical checkup was "clean" and that he's "blessed" that the disease was caught early. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the start of last season and had surgery in April to remove and contain it. He confirmed his condition in May. The 60-year-old Smith has not had any setbacks since.

"It does give you rejuvenation. With that you say, 'I'm going to make the best of this,"' Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press at Williams Arena. "Part of it is just, as you get older, you're running out of opportunities. So you want to make the best of it."

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After steady rumors about interest in Smith from other schools during his first few seasons with the Gophers, it looks more and more as if Minnesota will be his last job. Not that he's ready to retire any time soon.

"I told my wife I'd like to do it as long as I can do it. As long as you're healthy and somebody wants you to do it," Smith said. "That's the biggest challenge, to make sure somebody wants you to come in here and do it. We can't afford to have too many years like last year or they're not going to want me to continue to do it."

He laughed as he finished that sentence, but last season wasn't much fun. His personal streak of 17 straight 20-win records was stopped, and the Gophers went 17-14 without even an invitation from the NIT.

Smith and athletic director Joel Maturi have said many times in recent months that a new deal is in the works. Smith is entering the fifth season of a seven-year contract that pays him a guaranteed $1.75 million annually.

He told the AP Thursday his agent is still working on the deal with the university and added there are some issues "up in the air." Smith quickly mentioned he's disappointed by the lack of progress on a practice facility for the Gophers.

"There are things that need to get done in order for us to be competitive," Smith said. "If the expectation is for us to win a Big Ten championship, then we need a practice facility. It's as simple as that. That's not some kind of pie in the sky thing. Everybody has one. So we've got to get it done."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)