Johnson Talks To Utah Officials About Coaching Vacancy

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University of Nevada, Reno officials planned an afternoon news conference Tuesday regarding the future of head basketball coach Trent Johnson.

The announcement, to included UNR President John Lilley, interim athletics director Chris Ault and Johnson, was called hours after the Reno-Gazette Journal reported Johnson had met with University of Utah officials Monday about their vacant coaching position.

The newspaper said Johnson returned from Salt Lake City Monday night but would not confirm he had talked to Utah officials.

"I have no comment on any of that," Johnson told the newspaper. I haven't even talked to my wife yet."

Ault, however, acknowledged he gave Johnson permission to visit Utah, where he spent three years as an assistant coach in the 1980s.

Utah is seeking someone to replace Rick Majerus, who stepped down earlier this year because of health reasons.

"He is the best candidate for them, there is not a question about that," Ault said of Johnson, who has one year remaining on a three-year contract that pays him $227,000 annually at Nevada.

"He has earned the right to talk and listen to what opportunities might be out there for him," Ault said. "And he felt he had to take the opportunity to at least speak to Utah."

Ault said he remained optimistic Johnson will stay in Reno.

"I cannot speak for Trent but from my end, we are doing everything we can," he said. "I feel strongly that Trent is not looking to just pick up and go. He has written one chapter in a book and I would like to think he would want to write a few more."

The 10th seeded Wolf Pack upset No. 7 Michigan State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, then beat second-seed Gonzaga, 91-72, to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in the school's history.

Nevada lost Friday to Georgia Tech, 72-67, ending its season with a 25-9 record.

Johnson received $25,000 in bonuses this year for winning the Western Athletic Conference and making it to the Sweet 16, Ault said.