Richard Pitino led Minnesota back to the NCAA Tournament this past season for the first time since 2013 and because of that he’s being rewarded with a contract extension.
Minnesota announced on Wednesday that Pitino has signed a contract extension to keep him on the sidelines through the 2021-22 season. It is a one-year extension to his current existing contract and will become official pending approval from the Board of Regents at its May meetings.
“I am extremely grateful to be the head coach at such a prestigious university,” Pitino said in a press release. “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. I have loved getting to know and working with 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.”
This contract extension should come as no surprise to those following the program. Pitino has rebuilt Minnesota throughout his four years on the Golden Gophers’ bench, bringing them back to the big dance this past season. In 2016-17 Minnesota had the NCAA’s biggest turnaround with 16 more wins than the previous season. The Golden Gophers’ 23 regular season victories was also a school record. Pitino was recognized for this incredible turnaround by earning Big Ten Coach of the Year from the other Big Ten coaches and media. And the future only looks brighter for the Golden Gophers.
Next year is expected to be even better for the Golden Gophers, who return basically their entire roster outside of Akeem Springs. Minnesota will surely be in the mix for the Big Ten title next season behind senior guard Nate Mason, junior forward Jordan Murphy and sophomore guard Amir Coffey.
The contract extension may seem insignificant to some since it is only adding one year onto his already existing contract with Minnesota, but the move definitely sends a message. With this extension Minnesota is showing their trust in Pitino and confidence that this past season was only another step toward a brighter future.
This contract extension also will prove to be helpful on the recruiting trail in the coming years. This extension will give Pitino the opportunity to sell to potential recruits that he’s here for the long haul and is building something up in Minneapolis.
However, with this extension — and the successful season this past year — will come higher expectations. Pitino will be expected to experience success in the NCAA Tournament, something that hasn’t happened often for the Golden Gophers (Minnesota hasn’t made it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 1997). So keep that in mind as well, but overall this is good news and something Golden Gophers fans should be excited about.