Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino joked on Twitter that he was relieved his latest contract extension was approved by the University of Minnesota regents by unanimous vote Thursday.
In reality, it was no surprise at all.
Pitino agreed to the two-year extension last month after leading the Gophers to their first NCAA tournament victory since 2013 in a win vs. Louisville in Des Moines.
Pitino’s contract now stretches through the 2023-24 season and raises his average annual salary from $2.2 million under his previous deal to $2.46 million.
The university is now committed to $12.3 million over the next five seasons in his new deal.
"Easy decision,” Gophers athletics director Mark Coyle told the Star Tribune recently. “I sat down with Richard 10 days before the end of the season and said we believe in you and want to do everything we can to help you grow. I’m really pleased with Richard and how he runs the program. We felt it was very important to send a message that he is our guy and we want him here."
Pitino, 36, is 112-92 in six seasons as Gophers coach, including two NCAA tournaments in the past three years.
Coyle and Pitino said there was interest in him from other schools after this season, but this is where he wanted to be.
“I don’t really want to get into any of the schools, but when your name is being listed as a potential candidate it’s flattering but also complex,” Pitino told the Star Tribune last month. “At the end of the day, the most important thing is I love it here.“
The buyout terms are similar to his previous contract. If Pitino leaves, he would owe the university $500,000. And if the university fired him before next April 30, the buyout would be $2 million.
The Gophers are adding talent for the future with the 2019 recruiting class of four-star recruits Isaiah Ihnen and Tre’ Williams and three-star recruit Sam Freeman ranked 35th nationally and fourth in the Big Ten by 247Sports.com.
Two $50,000 bonuses came Pitino’s way this spring because the team made the NCAA tourney and also because of his team’s single-year APR of 964, which was released with other 2017-18 athletic department scores by the NCAA this week.
“The job in the six years I’ve been here as gotten substantially better,” Pitino said. “For five years, we didn’t have a $190 million practice facility. So as awesome as it is, we had to build the program the old-fashioned way without all the bells and whistles. Now we have those things. I just think this job has really, really improved. I’m proud to be the coach while all those things have gone on. I obviously want to continue to do that. This is a place I consider home and I think it’s a really, really good basketball job.”