With the Gophers winning their first NCAA men’s basketball tournament game since 2013 last month, the university gave Richard Pitino a new contract Sunday that includes a small raise and extends the coach two more years, through the 2023-24 season.
The terms of the new agreement, subject to approval by the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents, have the school committed to Pitino for $12.3 million over the next five seasons, an annual average of $2.46 million. His previous deal gave him an average salary of about $2.2 million a year.
Pitino, 35, has a 112-92 record through six seasons at Minnesota, including 40-70 in the Big Ten. He has led the program to the NCAA tournament in two of the past three seasons. The Gophers (22-14) fell to Michigan State 70-50 in the second round after beating Louisville 86-76 to open the NCAA tournament last month in Des Moines.
“My family and I have loved living in the Twin Cities the last six years,” Pitino said in a statement Sunday. “We have met so many wonderful, supportive people. It’s an honor to be able to continue to lead this Gopher basketball program.”
The university did not grant requests to interview athletic director Mark Coyle and Pitino on Sunday.
The new contract gives Pitino a $2 million base salary plus increasing retention bonuses at the end of each season. He receives a $100,000 bonus on April 30, 2020, a $400,000 bonus in April 2021 and then increases of $100,000 on the bonus up to a $700,000 bump on April 30, 2024.
The buyout terms are similar to previous contracts. If the U wanted to fire Pitino before April 30 next year, it would pay him $2 million. That buyout number drops each year from $1.75 million in 2021 to $1.5 million in 2022, $1 million in 2023 and becomes zero after May 1, 2023. If Pitino leaves for another job, his buyout payment to the U would be $500,000 throughout the contract.
Pitino’s new deal will rank him ninth among Big Ten coaches in annual salary, just behind Purdue’s Matt Painter ($2.83 million) and just ahead of Wisconsin’s Greg Gard ($2.35) and Iowa’s Fran McCaffery ($2.3 million). Michigan State’s Tom Izzo leads the pack, earning $4.2 million in annual salary.
Two years ago, Pitino was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year after putting together the biggest turnaround in program history, going from eight to 24 wins and reaching his first NCAA tournament. This March’s tournament victory was another high point.
The son of Hall of Famer and former Louisville coach Rick Pitino also has spent a couple of seasons on the hot seat, after going 8-23 in 2015-16 and 15-17 last season. Minnesota also threatened to miss the NCAA tournament this season by losing six of seven games, including four consecutive in February. But Pitino was able to rally his team to four wins in five games, including two Big Ten tournament games. The Gophers’ biggest victory was against Purdue to help secure an NCAA at-large bid. Senior forward Jordan Murphy, who became the school’s career rebounding leader, and junior guard Amir Coffey were named to the All-Big Ten teams.
Pitino landed four-star local recruits such as Coffey from Hopkins and freshman center Daniel Oturu from Cretin-Derham Hall. Oturu was part of a three-player Minnesota class in 2018 with DeLaSalle guard Gabe Kalscheur and Orono forward Jarvis Omersa.
Five-star Rochester John Marshall senior forward and McDonald’s All-American Matthew Hurt — who has Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas as his finalists — won’t sign with the Gophers when he makes his decision April 19. But Pitino signed four-star Wasatch Academy (Mount Pleasant, Utah) guard Tre’ Williams and received a commitment this week from three-star Northwest High (Justin, Texas) center Sam Freeman. The Gophers still have three scholarships remaining for next season, possibly four if Coffey stays committed to entering the NBA after the draft process.
“I am excited for Coach Pitino to continue to lead our men’s basketball program,” Coyle said in a statement. “Coach Pitino has developed All-Big Ten players, led deep runs into the Big Ten tournament and earned the school’s ninth-ever NCAA tournament win this year. I look forward to him advancing the program further in the upcoming years.”