Extension given to Boise State coach Leon Rice won’t scare off future job overtures

Posted: 04/03/2013 in college basketball
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Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice landed a two-year contract extension that puts him in a superb position if he continues to have success at a program that has never won a single NCAA tournament game.

Rice received a two-year extension through the 2017-18 campaign on Wednesday with a modest pay raise beginning in 2004-15. His buyout is just $175,000, which is why I feel Rice is set up well per eventually cashing in when a school from a more prestigious conference comes calling.

Rice made just over $440,000 this season, according to USA Today. Two years from now, that will increase to $482,110 and he will receive yearly pay raises of three percent through the duration of the contract.

Now envision the future in which a school that pays its coach more than $1 million a season is on the prowl for a new coach. Now imagine that Boise State’s NCAA tournament appearance this season becomes the norm as opposed to being a fluke.

Now imagine potential suitors laughing over that $175,000 buyout.

Coaches don’t honor their signed contracts and athletic directors looking for a new coach seldom care what a coach’s current contract says either.

Heck, Steve Alford signed a 10-year contract extension with New Mexico a few weeks ago, boasting how he wouldn’t want to coach anywhere else.

Barely 10 days later, Alford was off to UCLA. So much for New Mexico being Alford’s ultimate coaching destination.

There are coaches with contracts into the next decade and a few of those guys had their names bandied about as being candidates for open jobs. Virginia Commonwealth even gave coach Shaka Smart another extension in late March after giving him an eight-year extension two years ago.

So why was Smart even considering openings at UCLA and Minnesota if he already had a long-term extension? That’s because contracts mean nothing to coaches, athletic directors and universities. Smart’s latest deal runs through 2023.

Anybody want to bet on whether or not Smart will still be at VCU a decade from now? I will take the “no chance” option.

If you really want to assure nobody seeks your coach, you push for the largest buyout possible. Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy’s buyout this season was $3.75 million and that certainly shuts down any pursuit.

Of course, there is no reason for that high of a buyout for Rice – or most any college basketball coach. But it sure eliminates the possibility of your coach pulling a stunt like Alford’s, doesn’t it?

As for Rice, there is certainly nothing wrong with making half a million dollars a year and getting to live in Boise, Idaho. Heck, I willingly live here for a lot less money but I don’t have people from other locales willing to double or triple my salary when I perform at a high level.

Rice has done a fine job building a program that was stunningly bad just three years ago under the regime of Greg Graham. The product was bad and nobody in the area cared that Boise State played other sports beside football.

The Broncos have notched two 20-win seasons in Rice’s three seasons and fan support was significantly better this season, when there were even four crowds of more than 10,000. It was clear when the school reached the NCAA tournament that athletic director Mark Coyle had to sweeten Rice’s deal.

“I am excited about the continued growth of this program,” said Rice in a press release, “and I am humbled by the positive outpouring of support of the Boise State administration and Bronco Nation.”

That’s all fine and dandy but what happens if Rice makes a Sweet 16 run next season?

There is a guy named Andy Enfield who was introduced as USC’s coach this afternoon. Trojans athletic director Pat Haden wouldn’t have fielded his call two weeks ago.

But after Florida Gulf Coast’s unprecedented Sweet 16 run, look who is cashing in? Enfield just landed a job in the Pac-12, a gig he wasn’t even in the running for before two victories in mid-March.

Enfield made $157,000 this past season. He will be making more than seven times that at USC.

New Mexico just promoted assistant Craig Neal to replace Alford. Neal has never before been a head coach anywhere.

Neal landed a salary of $750,000.

Nonsense like that makes it pretty clear Leon Rice is in a great position – get Boise State its first-ever NCAA tournament victory and get ready to cash in.

To me, the upcoming salary bump is too light and the buyout is not hefty enough.

The end result is Rice is in an exceptional position – and set up to cash in whenever the opportunity arises.


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