Pitino, U of M Agree to Contract Extension

File photo of University of Minnesota men's basketball coach Richard Pitino.
File photo of University of Minnesota men's basketball coach Richard Pitino.

May 03, 2017 02:20 PM

University of Minnesota men's basketball coach Richard Pitino has agreed to a contract extension, the school confirmed Wednesday.

The extension tacks on an additional year to Pitino's existing deal which runs through the 2020-21 season and pays him an annual salary of just over $1.6 million, not including incentive bonuses.

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The deal still must be approved by the Board of Regents at their meeting later this month.

The extension comes after a bounce-back season that saw the Gophers make the largest single-season turnaround in program history, which landed Pitino Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. The team also made the first NCAA Tournament appearance in Pitino's four-year tenure.

“I am extremely grateful to be the head coach at such a prestigious university. My family and I love living in the Twin Cities and look forward to continuing to build a strong men's basketball program on and off the court,” Pitino said in an email statement from the University. “I have loved getting to know and working with (Athletic Director) Mark Coyle this past year. Mark and President Kaler's commitment to athletics is second to none. The future of Gopher basketball is very bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”

Coyle is out of town, attending meetings in Arizona, so no press conference is presently scheduled.

Coyle did have a comment included in the University statement.

“Since I came back to Minnesota as the AD last May, I have been impressed with Coach Pitino and his management of our men's basketball program,” Coyle said via the statement. “I've seen accountability, commitment and focus from every student-athlete and member of the men's basketball staff, led by Coach Pitino. The team's success on the court this year generated a lot of excitement on campus and around the state. I'm looking forward to much more of that with Coach Pitino leading our program.”

The breakthrough year in 2016-17 followed one of the most disappointing seasons in the history of Gopher basketball. Pitino's team went just 8-23 in the 2015-16 season, which was also marred by several high-profile off-court incidents involving players.

Pitino only had one season as a head coach at Florida International under his belt when he was hired by former Gophers Athletic Director Norwood Teague.

The Gophers finished 25-13 and won the NIT Championship in Pitino's first season in 2013-14, but win totals had severely regressed each year until last season's turnaround.

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Chris Long

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