PC is set to announce a 3rd contract extension in 6 years for its hoop coach
PROVIDENCE – Only a bit more than three years ago, Providence College and men’s basketball coach Ed Cooley agreed on a contract extension that trumpeted that the city native was ‘Staying Home.’
That came a few years after the college announced that the coach had agreed to a contract to ‘be a Friar for life.’
Well, Cooley’s winning ways reached a crescendo in the 2022 season with a Big East title and a 27-6 campaign that didn’t end until a loss in the Sweet 16 to eventual national champion Kansas. That success was enough to spark talks of a deserved contract extension that have come to a close with PC announcing an agreement with Cooley Monday. The initial report of Cooley’s agreement came via Jon Rothstein of College Hoops Today.
“Providence is my home and Providence is where I want to be,” Cooley said in a school release. “Not many coaches are able to live the dream of coaching in their hometown and I feel blessed every day that I have this opportunity. I have had the good fortune of working for great administrators and coaching some of the best players in the country. I believe in the leadership at Providence College and with that I want to thank Fr. Sicard and Steve Napolillo for allowing me to continue my career in Friartown. The support that our donors and fans have shown toward our program has grown to new heights over the last 11 years. We had a special season in 2022, and I am excited as we look ahead to this season and the opportunity to compete for another BIG EAST title.”
The length of the 52-year old Cooley’s extension is unknown but it is believed he signed a 10-year deal in the spring of 2019 after the coach had in-depth talks with the University of Michigan. It’s likely that this new deal pushes his deal back to 10 years.
The 2019 agreement came with the ‘Staying Home’ banner (pictured above) and the coach being quoted as saying “the Friars are my family. Most importantly, my commitment is to my players and my team at Providence.”
Only three years earlier, in March of 2016, and with no confirmed interest from other schools, Cooley and athletic director Bob Driscoll agreed on a deal that was again assumed to be close to 10 years. At that time Driscoll said “Ed has done so much for the College and for the Athletics Department. He indicated to us that he wants to finish his coaching career at Providence College and he is the person we want to guide our men’s basketball program. We are thrilled that Ed will be a Friar for life.”
According to PC’s most recent public tax filing, Cooley was paid $3.2 million in the 2020 season. Like most coaches, Cooley’s salary undoubtedly increased in the two seasons since. Under this new deal, it would not be a surprise to see the Naismith National Coach of the Year’s earnings exceed $4 million a season.
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Cooley’s name was linked with two prominent openings much of last season, but he never held any talks with officials at either the University of Louisville or the University of Maryland. However, the contracts those schools paid out do serve as a guideline to set today’s market. Louisville chose alumnus Kenny Payne as its next coach and gave him a six-year contract that starts at $3.2 million a year. Maryland grabbed Kevin Willard away from Seton Hall thanks in large part to a seven-year deal that begins at $3.9 million and averages $4.2 million a season.
At the highest end of college basketball, Kansas coach Bill Self is paid $5.4 million and his deal is rolled over by a year after every season he remains with the Jayhawks. Kentucky’s John Calipari – also a Naismith Hall of Famer – is believed to be the highest paid college basketball coach at $8.5 million per year.
Cooley hasn’t enjoyed anywhere near the national success of Self or Calipari and the ability of a small, private school like PC to pay a coach is much more challenging than at a large state school that boasts major college football like in the Big 12 or the Southeastern Conference. However, PC is coming off its most successful season in decades with a first-ever Big East regular season crown and is expecting a record number of season ticket holders in the 2022-23 season.
The Friars have made the NCAA Tournament in six of Cooley’s 11 seasons as the Providence coach. They’ll likely be picked in the top five in most Big East preseason polls despite returning only three returning regulars on a roster filled with transfers and freshmen.
Driscoll retired in June but Cooley is committing to work with both new athletic director Steve Napolillo and PC President Rev. Kenneth Sicard. This is an uneasy time in collegiate athletics with the dawn of Name/Image/Likeness opportunities for athletes and the financial challenges a conference like the basketball-first Big East faces in a world driven by major college football.