At this time last year there was
serious internet discussion around whether Richard Pitino would even be the coach of the Minnesota Gophers in 2016-17 after a horrific year, which culminated in single-digit wins and left our heads spinning.
Fast forward to today where the University announced it has extended Pitino’s contract by one year, placing him under contract through the 2021-22 season.
The extension comes after Pitino oversaw the greatest single-season turnaround of any Division I men’s basketball program last season, improved the Gophers’ win total by 16, made a return to the NCAA Tournament and was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year.
AD Mark Coyle was part of the contract negotiations this time around. Pitino’s last contract was negotiated between a combination of Norwood Teague and Beth Goetz, which ended up including a $7.1 million buyout, a number so big that it made it difficult to cut bait. No word yet on whether that buyout was negotiated down as part of the new contract.
Nevertheless, Pitino has the program on the upswing and Minnesota is as trendy of a national pick as anyone heading into the upcoming season. Several national polls have the Gophers securely in the preseason top 25, and even as high as #10. With four starters returning and a four-star recruit on the way, Minnesota looks like a popular pick to make noise.
Pitino is one of the nation’s youngest head coaches and second-youngest at a Power 5 conference school. He’s posted a 75-61 overall record in his four seasons at the helm and has presided over three winning seasons while at Minnesota, including a 25-13 team in 2013-14 that went on to win the National Invitation Tournament and set a school record for overall victories.