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Penny Hardaway signs extension: ‘Coach Hardaway has rejuvenated Memphis basketball’

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Post-NBA life isn’t too bad for legendary baller Penny Hardaway. The third-year Memphis basketball head coach and the University of Memphis has agreed to a five-year extension , totaling $12.25 million over the entire term.

“Coach Hardaway has rejuvenated Memphis basketball and has shown tremendous leadership in the Tigers program,” Memphis Director of Athletics Laird Veatch said. “He has had top-ranked recruiting classes and is establishing the foundation of a nationally competitive program. I have really enjoyed working with him, and we are excited to have Coach lead our program in the many years to come.”

“Coaching at Memphis is my dream job,” Penny Hardaway said. “I’m so thankful for the Board of Trustees, President Rudd, Laird Veatch and all of our loyal donors and fans for their continued support. Memphis basketball is in the national spotlight, and we are continuing to get better and better every day. The future is bright for the Tigers.”

Hardaway is 48-27 (.640) overall with the Tigers, including back-to-back 20-win seasons, going 21-10 last season after leading the Tigers to a 22-14 record and a NIT second-round appearance in 2018-19. The Tigers had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in 2019.

Three Hardaway-coached players are in the NBA, including a pair of top 20 first-round picks last month in James Wiseman at No. 2 overall to the Golden State Warriors and Precious Achiuwa at No. 20 to the Miami Heat. Jeremiah Martin is in his second season with the Brooklyn Nets.

It marked the second time in Memphis history that two former Tigers have been selected in the first round of the same NBA Draft to join Rodney Carney (No. 16 to Chicago) and Shawne Williams (No. 17 to Indiana) in 2006. Last season, Achiuwa was named the American Athletic Conference Player and Freshman of the Year, becoming the first player in AAC history to earn both honors. 

For Hardaway and the Tigers this season, redshirt-sophomore Landers Nolley II is on the 2021 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 Watch List for the most outstanding college player, sophomore D.J. Jeffries is a candidate for the Julius Erving Award for the nation’s top small forward, and freshman Moussa Cisse is on the watch list for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award as national center of the year.

In Hardaway’s first season in 2018-19, Memphis ranked No. 1 nationally in increased attendance, averaging 7,840 more per game, and ranked 17th nationally in average attendance with 14,065. The Tigers ranked ninth nationally last season in average attendance with 16,312, while also ranking No. 2 nationally in increased attendance of 2,247.

Memphis led the nation last season in field goal percentage defense (.361).

The new agreement amends the binding memorandum of understanding previously agreed upon on March 20, 2018, and is extended through April 15, 2026. The annualized total compensation for the newly added period will begin on April 16, 2021, as follows: $2.325M in each of the first two years; $2.5M in both years three and four; and $2.6M in the fifth year.

It’s great to see Hardaway having so much success with his alma mater after retiring from the professional ranks in 2007.