Smith’s tenure with Memphis fell short of expectations on the court and didn’t draw fan interest — a combination that led to decreased attendance and diminishing donations. Smith went 40-26 but failed to reach the postseason in his two seasons with the Tigers. The university owes Smith almost $10 million after buying out the final three years of his contract. Attendance this season dropped to 6,200 – its lowest in 48 years and a decrease of 3,400 from the 2016-17 season. There was a loss of $1.1 million in donations to the basketball program in the 2016-17 fiscal year, primarily from the decrease in season ticket sales. Memphis needed a jolt of rejuvenation. Hardaway — described as “the most electrifying history in Tiger history” in the Tigers media guide — was the university’s target from the time Smith was dismissed. “Penny, it is a pleasure to see you take this step and start to lead this program today.” Memphis President M. David Rudd said in introducing Hardaway.
Penny Hardaway set to join this list. pic.twitter.com/CgIewpLDC5— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 19, 2018