Smith never matched his elite success at Kentucky, but had two respectable seasons at Memphis, notching 40 wins and narrowly missing the NIT twice.
Memphis still owes Smith almost $10 million, thanks to three years left on his five-year contract, according to the Commercial-Appeal. Since leaving Kentucky in 2007, Smith has also coached at Minnesota and Texas Tech. Now 66, Smith leaves without taking Memphis to any postseason tournament in his two seasons. "Details are to be finalized, and no further comment will be offered".
Hardaway now is the head coach at Memphis East High School and founder of a Memphis-based AAU team, Team Penny, which could reverse Smith's failures on the recruiting trail at the university.
His son, Saul, had been one of three assistant coaches on staff at Memphis. He was with the Tigers for two seasons. Donations are down $1.1 million, and the school is likely to miss out on their usual $800,000 payment from the Grizzlies due to the low attendance at the Forum.
That combination hurts Memphis, which failed in its 2016 bid to join the Big 12.
Smith's departure was not unexpected, according to multiple reports, and discussions of his dismissal gained steam after Memphis lost in overtime at lowly East Carolina in early February.
Memphis made it to the American tournament semifinals despite losing leading scorer Jeremiah Martin to a broken foot in February.
Penny Hardaway is a top candidate to replace Smith.
A Memphis native, Hardaway played at then-Memphis State between 1991 and 1993 under coach Larry Finch before leaving for the National Basketball Association. With an ultra-talented crop of recruits in the area on the horizon - majority with connections to Hardaway through his AAU program or high school coaching - it isn't a shock that the school wanted to shake things up. Forward James Wiseman, the No. 2 prospect in 2019 nationally, plays for Hardaway on both teams.