Grant McCasland

North Texas will open its third season under Grant McCasland on Tuesday when it hosts Oklahoma Christian. 

The North Texas Board of Regents unanimously approved a proposal that will allow the school to negotiate a contract extension with men’s basketball coach Grant McCasland on Thursday.

Parameters for the contract were discussed in executive session.

McCasland guided the Mean Green to the College Basketball Invitational tournament title at the end of his debut season in 2017-18 and has rolled up a 41-30 record in two seasons with the Mean Green.

UNT hired McCasland away from Arkansas State and signed him to a five-year contract in 2017 that includes a $500,000 base salary with guaranteed incentives that push his total compensation past $600,000.

UNT paid ASU $500,000 to buy McCasland out of his contract.

McCasland took over UNT’s once-proud program after it bottomed out under former coach Tony Benford in the 2016-17 season. The Mean Green finished 8-22, their fifth straight season at .500 or worse under Benford, who was fired at the end of the year.

UNT went on to finish 20-18 in McCasland’s first season after winning five of its six games in the CBI. The Mean Green came back to finish 21-12 last season.

UNT started 16-1 last fall before struggling with injuries down the stretch.

McCasland adjusted his approach and is expected to have a competitive team in Conference USA this season.

“The biggest thing we need to do is make sure that we have healthy bodies going into the season and that we are in the best shape we can possibly be in,” McCasland said this summer. “I’m not saying we didn’t do that last year, but we are taking the approach that everyone is going to play.”

UNT returns several of its key players from last season, including guard Umoja Gibson and forward Zachary Simmons.

Gibson was a C-USA All-Freshman Team selection after averaging 12.6 points per game last season. Simmons averaged 10.2 points and 7 rebounds per game.

McCasland added to that core by signing five newcomers, including four transfers.

“I feel good about where we are at,” guard Roosevelt Smart said this summer. “We have the pieces to be better. We have depth again, size, length and guys who can play multiple positions. The guys are also unselfish. That will carry over.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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