Contract extension for Lucia follows promising start for U

  • Article by: ROMAN AUGUSTOVIZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 20, 2011 - 12:23 AM

The hockey coach, who is in his 13th season with the Gophers, will receive a base salary to be determined after each year of the new deal.

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Men's hockey coach Don Lucia, in his 13th season with the Gophers, will receive a base salary to be determined after each year of his new contract.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Don Lucia and the University of Minnesota have agreed to a three-year contract extension.

Lucia, four games into his 13th season as the Gophers men's hockey coach, was in the final year of his present contract. The extension will keep him at the 'U' through the 2014-15 season.

One unusual provision of the deal is that during the next three years there is no dollar figure stipulated for Lucia's base salary, which is $250,751 this season. Instead, the extension says his base salary will be an amount "reasonably determined by the Athletic Director after [a] performance review."

Joel Maturi, the Gophers athletic director, said that Lucia "won't go backwards [in salary], but automatic raises -- we are going away from that."

That adds a monetary incentive for Lucia to turn the program around. The Gophers have not finished higher than fifth in the WCHA standings the past four seasons and have not received an at-large NCAA tournament bid the past three.

Maturi pledged to offer Lucia an extension last March, only a few days after Alaska Anchorage swept the Gophers at Mariucci Arena in the first round of the WCHA playoffs to end their season. Some Gophers fans, including former players, protested the announcement. Maturi never wavered.

"Don Lucia has always done a lot of things right," Maturi said. "What he has not done is win as many games as we wanted the last few years. I believe his health had something to do with that, and I believe the kids who left early had something to do with that. But I believe he is a good coach and deserves the opportunity to continue."

Lucia, 53, led the Gophers to NCAA titles in 2002 and '03 and has a 294-159-53 record at Minnesota.

In addition to his base salary, Lucia will receive supplemental pay of $45,000 the first year (2012-13) of his extension, $50,000 the second and $55,000 the third. Even if his base salary stays at $251,000 throughout his extension, Lucia would still earn $306,000 the final year of his extension with supplemental pay.

Lucia's buyout during his extension will be his base salary that particular year -- an amount to be determined -- plus $147,000. For example, if his base salary increases by $7,000 in 2012-13, as it has in recent years, it would be roughly $258,000 and the university would have to pay him $405,000 to terminate his contract.

"I am excited and grateful," said Lucia, referring to his extension. "I understand the responsibility. I understand that we have had a lot of great years and the last couple [years] haven't been what we expected. We are off to a good start now [4-0-0], and we want that to continue. We don't think we are that far away. "

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