Pat Summitt is the newest millionaire coach and the first in women’s basketball. The University of Tennessee recently raised Summitt’s salary to $1.125 million for next season and extended her contract six years, through the 2011-2112 season.
Geno Auriemma of the University of Connecticut, the Lady Vols’ biggest rival, will be the next coach to make more than $1 million a year. According to the five-year contract he signed in 2005, his salary will be $1.05 million for the 2007-2008 season.
“What a statement. I’m obviously just honored to be the coach and very thankful to have this opportunity because of so many great staff members,” Summitt said. “You think of all the All-Americans and Olympians and just the players that walked on years ago and helped us build this program. It’s incredible what has happened.”
Women’s athletic director Joan Cronan called the salary a “landmark statement for women’s athletics.
Summitt, 53, leads all Division I basketball coaches, men’s and women’s, with 913 career wins. Tennessee has won six national championships under Summitt, and the court is named “The Summitt” in her honor.
“Not only is Coach Summitt the winningest coach in college basketball, but she is a tremendous ambassador for our university and our state,” school president John Petersen said. “I am proud that she will continue to represent the university for many years to come.”
Summitt’s base salary will increase from $300,000 to $325,000. She will get $350,000 for radio and television commitments, $300,000 for endorsements and $150,000 as a public relations fee. Her salary was $975,000 last season.
Over six years, the salary package will increase each year and average $1.3 million a year. The contract calls for Summitt to be paid $1.5 million in the final year.
Summitt recalled her early days at Tennessee, when she first coached the Lady Vols as a graduate assistant with a $250 monthly stipend. She bounced checks and often called her parents for money, she said.
The Lady Vols missed a chance at a 17th NCAA Final Four appearance last season when they lost to the University of North Carolina in the regional finals. They had not missed the Final Four since 2001.
Two highlights of the past season included Summitt reaching her 900th win in January and Candace Parker becoming the first woman to dunk in an NCAA tournament game and twice in one contest. She had two dunks against Army in the first round.
Summitt is the second-highest paid coach at Tennessee behind head football coach Phillip Fulmer, who makes $2.05 million annually. Men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl got a raise earlier this year to $1.1 million from $800,000.
Summitt said more universities were paying more attention to compensation packages for men’s and women’s coaches.
“In women’s basketball, just the fact that we’re starting to generate more interest and revenue and television, you get the exposure for the university. All of those things are a plus in terms of potential compensation,” she said. “That’s where I see our game improving and growing.”
— Associated Press
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