Minneapolis, Minn. — As the Gopher athletic department leadership changed from Norwood Teague, to Beth Goetz, to Mark Coyle, their men’s hockey coach Don Lucia continued to work under a contract set to expire after the 2016-17 season. That uncertainty was resolved Thursday morning as Lucia signed a two-year extension worth $621,250 per year keeping him under contract through his 20th season with Minnesota.
The deal includes increases in base pay from $350,000 in 2016-17 to $362,500 in 2017-18 and $375,000 in 2018-19 and increases in supplemental retirement contributions from $245,000 in 2016-17 to $250,00 in 2017-18 and $255,000 in 2018-19.
The contract includes a new clause to the contract allowing Lucia to review his staff’s compensation annually with Coyle. “During the final month of each year during the term of the agreement, Director will review with the Coach the term of this agreement and complete a market analysis of the compensation of the men’s hockey assistant coaches.”
The buyout section of Lucia’s contract is unchanged from his previous deal and if the University terminates the agreement at any time without just cause, the coach receives one-half of the base salary and one-half of the supplemental retirement payable for the remained of the term of employment.
NCAA Tournament, Regular and Conference Title, and Academic Performance bonuses are unchanged, however Lucia can now receive a $5,000 bonus if named Big Ten Coach of the Year. Lucia extended his ticket compensation in retirement from just four hockey season tickets and a parking pass to also include four football season tickets, a parking pass, and indoor club passes for the remainder of his life.
Teague last agreed to extend Lucia’s deal in October, 2011 for five years worth $556,600 per year, but it was unclear when and if an extension could be agreed upon after Teague was forced to resign in August. Goetz took over the role on an interim basis and then Coyle was hired in May. ESPN 1500’s Patrick Reusse reported that a contract was tendered to the coach in July offering him between $550,000 and $600,000, but both sides didn’t leak any further details on contract talks until the Gopher hockey season took off for Alaska on Thursday.
Lucia, who turned 58 in August, is fourth among active coaches for wins with 694 behind Jerry York (1012), Red Berenson (835), and Mike McShane (695). Since taking the helm at Minnesota in 1999, the program has missed the NCAA tournament in five of his 17 seasons, and has advanced to five Frozen Fours. Lucia accepted a six-year contract with a base salary of $125,000 annually when he started at Minnesota–back then his youngest son Mario was just about to enter kindergarten and now he’s a professional with the Minnesota Wild. The coach has a career record of 694-374-97 and is Minnesota’s all-time winningest coach while raising 12 banners to the rafters of Mariucci Arena, including back-to-back NCAA championships in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
In 2008-09, Lucia was diagnosed with sarcoidosis midway through the season, causing him to miss four games as the team finished 17-13-7 overall and fifth place in the WCHA regular season. The struggles carried over into 2009-10 when Lucia endured just his second losing season as a head coach, but Lucia received a clean bill of health from his doctors in July 2010 and has been healthy since.
The Duluth News Tribune Matt Wellens reported on Scott Sandelin’s extension in March 2016. The Minnesota Duluth’s coach has a contract through 2020-21 with a base salary of $300,000 in 2017-18 and will max out at $350,000 in 2020-21. The University agreed to contribute $50,000 per year from 2016-2021 to Sandelin’s University of Minnesota Optional Retirement Plan or to other university retirement plans. His buyout includes a full payout of the entire remainder of contract, but if Sandelin gains employment in a comparable position (national media commentator, pro hockey head or assistant coach, head Div. I, II or III hockey coach) the university is only responsible for the difference in base salary.
Wellens also reported compensation for other NCHC coaches, including St. Cloud State’s Bob Motzko making a base salary of $260,000 per year, North Dakota coach Brad Berry making a base salary of $288,400 per year, and Nebraska-Omaha’s Dean Blais making a base salary of $265,000.