College Sports

Gamecocks set to hire new basketball coach

Western Kentucky's Darrin Horn will be hired today as South Carolina's next basketball coach, The Herald has learned.

A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Monday night that Horn has agreed to take over for Dave Odom, who retired after the Gamecocks finished a 14-18 (5-11 SEC) season. A WKU spokesman also told The Associated Press that Horn has informed the school he is leaving.

The USC Board of Trustees has set a meeting for 11 a.m. today. University protocol requires the board to approve a contract before an official announcement is made.

A press conference has been scheduled for 1 p.m. today to announce the new coach.

USC Athletics Director Eric Hyman said he was looking for a young and energetic coach with a good record to take over after Odom announced his retirement, and Horn fits the bill. The 35-year-old just finished his fifth season and has gone 111-48 over his tenure, winning one Sun Belt Conference championship, one divisional title and tying for another.

Horn also took the Hilltoppers to two NITs, losing in 2006 to eventual champion USC, and this year's NCAA tournament.

Horn guided WKU to the Sweet 16 this year before bowing out to Final Four participant UCLA. A former all-conference player for the Hilltoppers, Horn was on the last WKU team to advance that far.

Hyman was interested in Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel, but the Sooners recently agreed to a new contract for their coach. Horn got on the radar after the Hilltoppers' run through the tournament.

Horn is signed at WKU for three more seasons and his buyout is $157,000 per year. There's also a stipulation that any school that hires Horn must schedule Western Kentucky for four games, including two at WKU within the next four years.

Horn replaced Dennis Felton, who won the SEC tournament at Georgia this season, five years ago. He was an assistant at WKU for two years following his graduation and moved on to an assistant spot at Morehead State from 1997-99. He was hired as a Marquette assistant in 1999 and served until 2003, helping the Golden Eagles reach the 2003 Final Four.

At Marquette, Horn was credited with recruiting All-American Dwyane Wade, who would be named MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals, and future NBA players Travis Diener and Steve Novak. He was hired at WKU in 2003 and went 15-13, before embarking on a run of four straight 20-plus-win seasons, including 29-7 this past year.

Horn is a fan of an up-tempo offense, which seems to fit the Gamecocks' returning players. All but senior Dwayne Day will be back in 2008-09, including consensus first-team All-SEC point guard Devan Downey and All-SEC Freshman Mike Holmes.