UNT closing in on naming new coach

North Texas expects to finalize its search for a new men's basketball coach within the next week and could have a coach in place within the next two or three days. (DRC file photo)

North Texas expects to finalize its search for a new men’s basketball coach within the next week and could have a coach in place within the next two or three days. (DRC file photo)

North Texas is close to hiring a new head coach for its men’s basketball program, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Denton Record-Chronicle late Sunday.

The source detailed where the school is in its search process.

UNT has narrowed its field of candidates to two or three coaches, including one who has emerged as the top option.

The school is expected to have its new coach in place by the end of the week and could have a decision finalized within the next two or three days.

UNT fired Tony Benford at the end of his fifth season this spring and has been looking for his replacement for the last few days.

UNT athletic director Wren Baker, a former college basketball coach with an extensive background in the game, said shortly after firing Benford that he is targeting current Division I head coaches. 

UNT’s search has progressed quickly since. ESPN analyst and longtime college head coach Fran Fraschilla said the job is attractive due to UNT’s location and administrative support. Baker has made getting UNT’s basketball program back on track a priority and has plans in place to renovate the locker rooms in the Super Pit this summer.

Fraschilla’s name came up in connection with the UNT job after Johnny Jones left for LSU in 2012. UNT hired Benford instead.

Fraschilla said he is not interested in the job this time and will continue in his role as a broadcaster.

The NCAA tournament bracket as well as the NIT bracket came out on Sunday evening. The NIT begins on Tuesday, while the NCAA tournament starts on Thursday. Those event could keep several current Division I coaches occupied for the next several days.

UTA coach Scott Cross, Texas State coach/UNT alum Danny Kaspar and Arkansas State coach Grant McCasland are among coaches in the region who fit the profile of the type of coach UNT is seeking and could pursue.

The coach UNT hires will take over a program that failed to finish over .500 in any of its five seasons under Benford. The Mean Green finished last in Conference USA this season with a 2-16 mark in league play. The Mean Green were 8-22 overall.

UNT strung together six straight seasons with at least 18 wins and played in two NCAA tournaments during one of the best runs of success in program history before Benford’s arrival.

Baker took over as UNT’s athletic director in the fall of 2016 and is preparing to make his first major coaching hire.

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