Tag Archives: richard pitino

Minnesota Men’s Basketball APR Remains a Concern

Just prior to the start of the 2016-17 basketball season last November, we stated that Richard Pitino was not on the hot seat. There were three reasons for this: the team’s outlook, his large buyout, and the program’s APR.

Our claims that most people were underestimating the team and that they projected to be set for a strong 2017-18 were proven to be true. From here, things could continue to go well (e.g., a strong 2017-18 season, great success on the recruiting trail), or they could become more challenging.

However, due to the other two issues, the seat still probably won’t get hot soon even if team performance and recruiting go south.

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Pitino Not on The “Hot Seat”; Gophers 2016-17 Outlook

Pitino Not On The “Hot Seat”; Gophers 2016-17 Outlook

Many preseason “coaches on the hot seat” articles list Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino and state that a poor season on the court would spell trouble for Pitino. We believe the only way Pitino would be on the hot seat is if there are continued off the court issues for the program’s student-athletes. There are a few reasons why we don’t see Pitino being on the hot seat absent off the court issues. Those reasons are listed below.

Large Buyout

Late last summer, Minnesota entered into an amendment with Pitino which effectively caused his buyout to skyrocket should he be fired without cause. If Minnesota were to terminate Pitino’s employment next March, the buyout would still be nearly $6 million.

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They Said It: Amy Phenix

They Said It: Amy Phenix

The Board of Regents (“Board”) effectively approved the contract extension of Richard Pitino on August 14, 2015. The Board delegated authority to the President, who delegated to his Chief of Staff, Amy Phenix. Ms. Phenix signed under the big block letters, “REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA.”

The timing of certain members of the Board voicing their concern about Pitino’s contract and their claim of a lack of a role in approving it is a topic for another day, but one which certainly is deserving of further discussion.

Now, let us move on to the topic of this article: “They Said It: Amy Phenix”

In a Star Tribune article published on March 31, 2016, Chief of Staff Amy Phenix explained, “The reality is you’re very rarely going to fire someone not for cause in year one of a contract extension,” she said. “It’s just highly unusual.

Let’s quickly explore what “the reality is.”
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Minnesota: Conference Advanced Player Stats

Minnesota: Conference Advanced Player Stats

Notes and details on the Gophers’ team and player stats (see PDF) through the first four Big Ten games are included in this article.

Eff. eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Minnesota 96.0 45.8% 21.0% 35.6% 33.5%
Opponents 104.6 49.8% 20.4% 34.6% 40.5%

Minnesota’s eFG% lags far behind their opponents, but in two of their four losses the Gophers have shot better than the other team.

at Purdue – 72-68 loss: Minnesota was the better shooting team, but Purdue held slight edges in turnovers and rebounding and a big advantage in free throw rate.

at Maryland – 70-58 loss: The Gophers shot a miserable 36.1 eFG%, the worst performance of any Richard Pitino-coached team (including FIU).

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Pitino’s Former PF Excelling at West Virginia

Pitino’s Former PF Excelling at West Virginia

Upon Minnesota’s hiring of Richard Pitino we wrote COULD RICHARD PITINO BRING A STAR FORWARD TO MINNESOTA? (April 3, 2013). The article discussed FIU-bound Jonathan Holton and his JUCO teammate Kevin Thomas, noting that, “[p]ower forward is a position of need for next year’s team and Pitino could potentially deliver in a major way.”

Late Night Hoops visited a Palm Beach State (Fla.) practice several months prior to the article and believed either player could be provide a significant boost to the roster.

As things turned out, Holton wound up at West Virginia and Kevin Thomas at Troy. Let’s take a look at how they are performing this season.

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Minnesota’s 3FGA/FGA Percentage to Rise Significantly in 2013-14

August 5, 2013
Minnesota’s 3FGA/FGA Percentage to Rise Significantly in 2013-14

We expect the Gophers will attempt 3-point field goals more often during 2013-14 than in any season over the past decade. The two primary reasons for this expectation are: (1) Minnesota’s 3FGA/FGA percentage has historically been low and (2) the team’s roster will rely heavily on players who often utilize the 3-pointer. Those reasons sound simple, but it’s important to differentiate the real reasons from a basic “it’s because of Coach Pitino” argument.
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2014 Recruiting: Gophers Have Advantage Over Duke, Others

June 1, 2013
2014 Recruiting: Gophers Have Advantage Over Duke, Others

Coach K in Dubai

The Pitch
Minnesota’s new head coach Richard Pitino can offer something to 2014 recruiting targets that many other schools, including the Duke Blue Devils, cannot.

The Minnesota high school class of 2014 features the “Big Three” of Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis. In addition to pursuing those players, Richard Pitino won’t shy away from head-to-head recruiting battles with traditional basketball powerhouses.
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Q&A: Richard Pitino’s Contract with Minnesota

April 16, 2013
Q&A: Richard Pitino’s Contract with Minnesota

Q #1: How many years does Minnesota have Pitino locked up for?
A: Zero. Contracts are made to be broken. However, the term of the agreement is 6 years ending April 2019. We would expect some of the terms to change (i.e. compensation) over the next one to three years.

Amendments and restatements to college coaching contracts are common. As an example, VCU’s Shaka Smart agreement with the school has been changed each and every year he’s been there.

Q #2: What is Pitino’s compensation?
A:  The following are key elements of his compensation. We believe it’s likely that the guaranteed compensation will be increased in the next one to three years.
Guaranteed compensation – $1.2 million in 2013-14 consisting of $500k base and $700k supplemental. The $500k must be increased by at least 5% each year (i.e., will be a minimum of $525k for 2014-15).
Stay bonus – $133,333 per year. If he is still employed on April 30, 2016, Pitino will receive a payment of $400,000. Also, if he’s still coaching the program on April 30, 2019, he’ll receive another payment of $400,000.
Performance bonuses – Coach Pitino can earn bonuses each season for reaching certain athletic and/or academic performance targets. Most years we’d expect these to total between $50k and $200k. See also Question #7 below.

Q #3: I heard Minnesota is letting Pitino fly private, but they are limiting the cost of those flights to only $50,000 per year?!
A : We see the $50,000 as largely symbolic. There are situations where being able to fly on a private jet is essential to performing your job at the highest level. Many schools that pay big bucks for their head coach’s recruiting travel don’t have anything formally agreed to and they see it for what it is – a business expense that provides value to the program.

Let’s imagine it’s the end of July and Coach Pitino has been doing an excellent job with the program. The school has already spent $50,000 on private flights and Richard is trying to figure out how to get from Orlando to Las Vegas as quickly as possible. In that situation he’ll be flying on a small jet and the cost will be well worth it.

In other words, don’t get hung up on the $50,000. Pay more attention to the administration showing that they are interested in supporting the basketball program.

Q #4: What happens if Coach Pitino leaves Minnesota early? Does he owe the school something?
A: If Pitino leaves prior to April 30, 2016, he would owe the school a $1.5 million termination fee. If he leaves after then but before the six year term has been completed, he would owe a $500k termination fee.

In addition, any of the stay bonus “earned” but not yet paid would be forfeited. For example, if Pitino stayed three seasons before leaving in early April 2016, he would miss out of the $400,000 due to him if he stayed to the end of the month.

Finally, Pitino must pay back the Florida International contract buyout costs (estimated by Pleasant Avenue Athletics to be around $400k including tax gross-ups) that Minnesota covered if he leaves before April 30, 2018.

The April 30 date in these provisions is important. If a coach leaves one program for another it generally occurs well before that date.

Q #5: You said that Minnesota’s buyout costs to terminate Tubby Smith were about $3.25 million. How large is the termination fee for Coach Pitino?
A: If Pitino was fired without cause today the termination fee would be around $5.9 million. This amount decreases by approximately $950k to $1 million per year over the term of the agreement.

Pitino is in a very different position than Tubby Smith. He should be given a good four to five years before any strong consideration is made regarding an early end to his employment with Minnesota.

The termination is large, but the risk of a significant financial hit is considerably less with Coach Pitino than it was with Coach Smith.

Q #6: I’ve heard that if Minnesota fired Pitino and he then got another job, the U could stop making termination fee payments. Is that correct?
A: Not really. First, let us be clear: we are not offering tax advice in this article. That said, based on how the agreement is written and US tax regulations, it’s likely Minnesota would pay around 40% of the termination fee regardless of whether Pitino found other employment a short time after being terminated.

The issues surrounding this matter are complex and this is not the forum to get into the detail. (Besides, we don’t see Pitino on the hot seat any time soon, if ever.) You may hear from others that Minnesota will “get out of the buyout costs” if Pitino gets another job; however, the issues here are complex.

Q #7: Are the bonuses available to Pitino similar to those in Tubby’s agreement?
A: They’re similar in nature (i.e., bonuses for winning the conference, making the tourney, etc.), but overall? Not really. They are far more reasonable in amounts and are more difficult to achieve. We find the goals and amounts that Pitino can earn to be reasonable for his situation. The reality is that with success, Minnesota will need to increase their coach’s guaranteed pay.

Remember, contract terms are frequently revisited. If the incentives earned under the agreement aren’t deemed adequate, an increase in compensation (or a discretionary bonus) may be warranted.

Q #8: Coach Pitino’s pay is a lot lower than Tubby’s was, right?
A: Indeed. Tubby had a sweetheart deal at the U and he’s now making considerably less at Texas Tech. Let’s compare what compensation would have been for Smith and what it would be for Pitino under a hypothetical scenario for 2013-14.

Compensation under Hypothetical Scenario for 2013-14 Season
We’ll assume Minnesota finishes in 4th place and makes NCAA tournament appearance, where they  lose in their first game. The team has an APR of 950, GPA of 2.9 and a graduation success rate of 50%.

Pitino Smith
Guaranteed $1.33 million $2.25 million
Incentives $0.08 million $0.35 million
  TOTAL $1.41 million $2.60 million

Using the hypothetical scenario above, Smith would have made over $1.19 million (84%) more in 2013-14 than Pitino would.

Note: Certain information and interpretations in this article were provided by Pleasant Avenue Athletics.

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