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Rutgers betting big on Pikiell with contract extension

Rutgers set to make Steve Pikiell one of the Big Ten’s highest paid head basketball coaches as they extend his contract to the 2023-24 season.

Steve Pikiell came in to the Rutgers men’s basketball head coaching position in the middle of interesting times for the basketball program. Just two years later and he is now receiving a contract extension and getting paid rather handsomely in the process.

Rutgers announced a new contract extension for Pikiell on Wednesday afternoon, one that will see him extended until the end of the 2023-24 season. It’ll also see him reach a guaranteed compensation package of $15.05 million over the course of the next five seasons. There are also performance bonuses that could bring this total even higher.

“Steve is doing a fantastic job and it’s our intent to do everything we can to keep him at Rutgers for a very long time,” said Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs. “There is incredible excitement around our program. We are going to compete with the very best because of Steve’s leadership. Our program could not be in better hands.”

Rutgers apparently decided it was also going to compete at the top of the Big Ten coaching pay scale too. The new contract means Pikiell is going to average nearly $3 million per season guaranteed over the next five seasons. However, much of the contract is back-loaded as Rutgers will pay big salaries to Pikiell following it getting it’s full-share as a member of the Big Ten conference for the first time.

To put that in perspective, his average salary would nearly the same as John Beilien at Michigan and just around $500,000 less than Tom Izzo is making at Michigan State. Yes, that same Tom Izzo who has a national championship and plenty of Final Four banners hanging in the rafters of the Breslin Center.

Just to put this in to perspective, Pikiell’s new deal would make him the fifth highest paid head coach in the Big Ten according to the latest numbers by USA Today and contracts for the newest coaches in the Big Ten. That would put him behind Izzo, Beilein and newcomers Archie Miller at Indiana and Chris Holtmann at Ohio State respectively.

All of it for a coach who is 26-24 overall and has the Scarlet Knights sitting 11-6 on the 2017-18 season.

The investment certainly indicates a Rutgers athletic department willing to go all-in on a coach who has at least made the Scarlet Knights competitive after years as the also-ran of the Big Ten and Big East before that. It also indicates a program that knows it needs to pay to keep a good coach around to build something worthwhile in Piscataway.

The announcement came on the heels of Rutgers’ big win this weekend over Wisconsin to snap a bad three-game losing streak that included losses to Rider and Stony Brook. But, hope also springs up thanks to a big win prior to that three-game losing streak, as Rutgers beat No. 13 Seton Hall in the battle of New Jersey.

Something is brewing in Piscataway, and the Scarlet Knights brass are going all-in that Pikiell is the long-term answer.

It’s a gamble, but one that Rutgers likely needed to show to the outside world as much as anything. For once, the Scarlet Knights are taking all athletics seriously and putting their money where their mouths are.

But, as with all gambles like this, it needs to pay off and that jury is still way out on whether or not that will happen.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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