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Updated: March 30th, 2013 2:51pm
Sources: Flip Saunders turns down 'U', which wanted to help hire staff

Sources: Flip Saunders turns down 'U', which wanted to help hire staff

by Phil Mackey and Darren Wolfson
Email | Twitter

Apparently not even Flip Saunders wants the vacant Gophers coaching job.

According to multiple sources, Flip Saunders has turned down the University of Minnesota's offer to be Tubby Smith's replacement. Athletic director Norwood Teague and associate AD Mike Ellis will continue their search, which began nearly one week ago.

It's unknown if a contract was formally offered, or if both sides were just in the verbal stage.

The Saunders rejection comes as a surprise. Saunders, 58, was believed to have strong interest in coaching his alma mater. He met with Teague at the NCAA regional in Indianapolis on Friday, and sources said talks were extremely productive.

People behind the scenes at the University even began the early stages of preparing for a possible press conference to announce Saunders as the new coach.

Where did things go wrong?

According to sources, it is believed Teague and Ellis wanted to help Saunders hire his staff, which easily could have been a deal-breaker for a coach of Saunders' caliber -- a 638-526 career record in the NBA and 30 years of coaching experience.

Attempts to reach Ellis have been unsuccessful.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
Darren "Doogie" Wolfson is the jack-of-all-trades sports guy for 5 Eyewitness News and a contributor to
Email Darren | @darrenwolfson