Tim Floyd, who took USC's basketball program to new heights, was offered the Arizona job Wednesday, a source familiar with the situation said.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous as he was not authorized to speak about the situation, said that Floyd met with Arizona Athletic Director Jim Livengood and was offered the position. Floyd is believed to have 24 hours to make a decision.
Floyd could not be reached for comment and did not respond to a text message.
Arizona asked for permission to speak with Floyd on Tuesday. At the team banquet that night, Floyd gave an impassioned speech to players about staying at USC to win a national title, and not jumping to the NBA. He flew off to interview at Arizona on Wednesday.
"Arizona called me and asked for permission. I gave them permission to talk to him," USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett said. "I know that was in the process."
Asked if he had spoken to Floyd, Garrett said, "He'll come to me and tell me what he's decided. That's how it works."
Floyd, 55, was wooed by Louisiana State a year ago, which offered a multi-million contract. Floyd turned it down and said at the time, "This is my last job at SC."
Said Garrett: "If people don't want to be here they can go somewhere else. And if Tim has decided that, I thought he was a great coach and we've just got to find another great coach."
Asked about a possible coach search, Garrett said, "Of course I always have people in mind and I'll just have to go deal with those people that I have on a short list that I would consider."
Floyd spent the last four seasons at USC, compiling an 85-50 record. The Trojans reached the NCAA tournament the last three seasons, a first in the program's history, and made it to the Sweet 16 in 2007.
This season, USC won the Pacific 10 Conference tournament and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"He was just saying that we would have a good year next year and that he believed in us, and that he thinks we could make a Final Four run," USC guard Marcus Simmons said. "Not just win one game, a Final Four run, and have a great team next year if everybody comes back."
Simmons said players were completely in the dark.
"He hasn't shown any signs at all," Simmons said. "When you talk to him, you would think he's staying here forever. No sign at all. I'm clueless right now as to what's going on."
Floyd built a large part of his USC success on transient players, with O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson leaving for the NBA in 2008 after one season. Freshman DeMar DeRozan, a key player for the Trojans this season, is considering declaring for the NBA draft.
Floyd would replace Russ Pennell, who spent one season as the Wildcats coach after Lute Olson stepped down for health reasons last fall. Arizona reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament this season.
Under Olson, Arizona became a national power and has reached the NCAA tournament 25 consecutive seasons.
If Floyd leaves, it could affect the Trojans' incoming freshman class. Solomon Hill and Renardo Sidney, two top recruits for Los Angeles Fairfax High, have committed to USC but have not signed letters of intent. Hill, a 6-foot-6 forward, originally committed to Arizona, but pulled back after Olson stepped down. Sidney, a 6-10 center, is a highly sought after player, but has yet to take the SAT.
Those currently at USC could also be affected. Besides DeRozan, junior forward Taj Gibson and junior point guard Daniel Hackett are contemplating jumping the NBA.
"I think this will play a major part in my decision," said DeRozan, who expects to decide this week whether to go to the NBA. "It's real heartbreaking. It's tough to see the coach you play for leaving. I'm just waiting to see what exactly is going on."
Floyd coached in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls from 1999 to 2002 and the New Orleans Hornets in 2004. He was also the coach at Iowa State, New Orleans and Idaho.
Times staff writer Gary Klein and correspondent Adam Rose contributed to this report.