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Odom Denies Being Offered Coaching Job at Virginia

By Mark Schlabach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 5, 2005; Page D04

ST. LOUIS, April 4 -- South Carolina Coach Dave Odom denied Monday that he has been offered Virginia's head coaching position, but many of his colleagues continue to insist he will be hired by the Cavaliers sometime this week.

Odom, 62, has spent the past four seasons at South Carolina after guiding Wake Forest to 11 postseason appearances in his 12 years at the ACC school. Virginia is seeking a replacement for former coach Pete Gillen, who took a buyout after leading the Cavaliers to only one NCAA tournament in seven seasons.

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Odom admitted meeting with Cavaliers Athletic Director Craig Littlepage at a hotel here Sunday but said they didn't discuss the school's opening. Odom and Littlepage worked on Terry Holland's staff at Virginia during the 1980s. Odom also said officials haven't asked South Carolina Athletic Director Mike McGee for permission to talk to him about the job.

"Over the past several weeks, I have had a number of telephone conversations with Craig," Odom said in a statement released by South Carolina's athletic department Monday. "We spoke only about the NCAA tournament and teams that the tournament committee should be considering.

"Upon arriving in St. Louis at the Final Four on Saturday morning, I received a call from Craig asking if I would talk with him about my impressions of the University of Virginia and its basketball program, about the ACC as a league and the landscape of college basketball nationally. There was absolutely no discussion about my potential interest in the head coaching position at the University of Virginia."

However, an ACC coach who met with Odom on Monday said hiring the South Carolina coach "is what Craig wants." But people close to the search said Virginia President John T. Casteen III might prefer DePaul Coach Dave Leitao, who was an assistant under Connecticut's Jim Calhoun when Casteen was the president at Connecticut.

"Littlepage has to do his due diligence as far as talking to higher-profile coaches," said the ACC coach, who requested anonymity because the search is ongoing. "The problem with Dave [Odom] is he's a quick fix. How much longer is he going to do this? Four or five more years? He's a great coach and a safe hire. He'll take the job because he hates coaching" in the Southeastern Conference.

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