- The Washington Times - Friday, April 22, 2011

Jim Larranaga is leaving George Mason according to several reports, departing after a 14-year run at the Fairfax school to take over at Miami.

Larranaga replaces Frank Haith, who ended his seven-year stint with the Hurricanes this month when he accepted the vacancy at Missouri.

Larranaga was 273-164 with the Patriots, including an improbable trip to the 2006 Final Four. He took Mason to five NCAA tournaments and three CAA tournament titles, and was the winningest coach in both school and conference history.

That included a 27-7 record this past season and a victory over Villanova as an at-large entrant in the NCAA tournament. The eighth-seeded Patriots lost to Ohio State in the round of 32 last month.

Most of that team was set to return next year. Mason lost leading scorer Cam Long and defensive ace Isaiah Tate, but four starters will be back along with Sherrod Wright, who missed last season with a shoulder injury.

Larranaga was under contract with George Mason through 2015-16 as part of a deal reworked in 2008 after Larranaga interviewed for the opening at Providence eventually filled by Keno Davis. Larranaga had a base salary of $525,000 as part of the deal. He also received $25,000 this year for reaching single-season victory milestones and a $75,000 longevity bonus for remaining at Mason through March 30.

The deal also included a $5,000 bonus for winning Colonial Athletic Association coach of the year (which he did this year) and a 10 percent bonus of his base salary for reaching the NCAA tournament. Larranaga earned an addition five percent of his base salary for reaching the round of 32.

Larranaga, who previously spent 11 years at Bowling Green and two at American International College, owns a career record of 470-334.

Haith was 129-100 with one NCAA tournament appearance in Coral Gables. His run covered the entirety of Miami’s stay in the ACC, and it hinted at both the possibilities and the drawbacks of the private school with a limited basketball history. The Hurricanes averaged 20.8 wins over the last four years, but have yet to post a winning record in the ACC.

More noticeably, few seem to notice. Miami averaged 4,763 fans last season – the second-largest total in school history. Still, that meant on an average night more than a third of the 7,200-seat BankUnited Center was empty.

The Hurricanes have one NCAA appearance in the last nine years, but could also return all but one player from a 21-14 team. Miami will lose sixth-year senior Adrian Thomas, and center Reggie Johnson has declared for the NBA Draft but has yet to hire an agent.

George Mason is the third CAA job to open this offseason. Georgia State fired Rod Barnes before the conference tournament and hired IUPUI coach Ron Hunter. Towson’s Pat Kennedy resigned after the season and was replaced with Pittsburgh assistant Pat Skerry.

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