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Monday, April 10, 2006
Updated: April 11, 3:56 PM ET
Capel will replace Sampson at Oklahoma

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

Oklahoma will name Virginia Commonwealth coach Jeff Capel as its next men's basketball coach, multiple sources told ESPN.com on Monday night.

VCU confirmed Capel's move in a statement from president Eugene Trani and athletic director Richard Sander. The Sooners have scheduled a news conference Tuesday afternoon to introduce their new coach.
Jeff Capel led Virginia Commonwealth to the CAA title and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2004.

Capel met with Rams players early Tuesday morning in Richmond, Va. He was not in his office later in the morning.

"We are both sad and happy with Jeff's announcement that he is going to Oklahoma," Sander said. "He did a great job here, and we know he will do a great job there."

Capel was the stealth candidate Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione had been working the past 10 days. Earlier Monday, Wichita State's Mark Turgeon and Miami's Frank Haith, thought to be front-runners for the position, both made it clear they were staying at their respective schools. Regardless, Capel was a target of Castiglione's since Kelvin Sampson announced he was leaving for Indiana two weeks ago.

Capel, 31, led the Rams to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and the NIT in 2005. The fourth-year VCU coach is considered a rising star in the business and was selected last summer to be an assistant coach with Manhattan's Bobby Gonzalez on the USA World University Games staff led by Villanova's Jay Wright. The United States won the gold medal in Turkey.

VCU finished 19-10, 11-7 in the Colonial Athletic Association this past season.

After the season, Capel agreed to a two-year contract extension that gave him six years on his VCU deal. His record at the school was was 79-41.

Multiple sources told ESPN.com that Capel rated very high when Castiglione and other Oklahoma officials checked him out with high-profile basketball-related people. Oklahoma was looking for a person to lead the Sooners' program long term and was willing to think "out of the box" with Sampson's successor.

Oklahoma's program is at an all-time high with some of the top facilities in the country. Sampson signed his highest-rated recruiting class before he left for Indiana. The Sooners lose seniors Taj Gray, Terrell Everett and Kevin Bookout -- three of their top four scorers. But they return Michael Neal (12.4 points per game), Nate Carter (6 points) and David Godbold (5.7 points), three of the top four guards from last season's 20-9 team (11-5 in the Big 12 and a first-round loser to Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the NCAA Tournament).

Oklahoma is still waiting for an April 21 NCAA infractions hearing on rules violations from 2000-04 dealing with excessive phone calls under Sampson. The school already self-imposed penalties on Sampson (freezing his salary, no July recruiting) as well as cutting scholarships and recruiting visits from the past year.

Capel played at Duke and is the son of Charlotte Bobcats assistant Jeff Capel, a former head coach at Old Dominion and North Carolina A&T.

The younger Capel started 28 games as a freshman guard on Duke's 1994 team that made it to the NCAA championship game but lost to Arkansas. He graduated in 1997, then played in the Continental Basketball Association and in France before beginning his coaching career as an assistant to his father at Old Dominion.

He moved to Virginia Commonwealth as an assistant in 2001 and became the head coach the following year. At age 27, he was the youngest head coach in Division I at the time.

The signature of his VCU teams was defense. This season, the Rams allowed 62.4 points a game. On offense, they averaged only 12.5 turnovers and made nearly eight 3-pointers a game.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.