Arizona Basketball

Eight-year extension could break record of Arizona Wildcats AD, football, basketball coaches together

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Eight more years. Eight attempts at the Final Four and a national title. Eight tries for the Rose Bowl. In Greg Byrne’s case, eight years to show he can do for Arizona what Cedric Dempsey accomplished: Make the right moves and take Arizona and himself to the next level.

According to an Arizona Republic report, a benefactor has come up with a retention plan that could help keep Sean Miller, Rich Rodriguez and Byrne in Tucson for the next eight years.

The three giants in Arizona athletics — those who have the most to do with generating revenue — have already been together since 2011 when Byrne made his first substantial hire by luring Rodriguez out of unemployment. They have co-existed in Arizona’s athletic department the last two seasons since the 2012-13 school year.

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Eight years from now means 10 years together for Byrne, Rodriguez and Miller at the highest profile positions within the Arizona athletic department. That length of service together has never happened in the school’s history.

The longest the athletic director, men’s basketball coach and football coach served together at Arizona was eight years when J.F. “Pop” McKale (AD), Fred A. Enke Sr. (basketball) and Miles Casteel (football) were together from the 1939-40 school year through 1948-49 school year.

In two of those school years — 1943-44 and 1944-45 — Arizona did not field a football team because of World War II.

The next longest was seven years when one man — McKale — occupied the AD, football coach and basketball coach positions from 1914-21.

Sean Miller

Sean Miller

Greg Byrne

Greg Byrne

Rich Rodriguez

Rich Rodriguez


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The next is six years (twice) when Dick Clausen (AD), Jim LaRue (football) and Bruce Larson (men’s basketball) were together from 1961-67; and Dempsey, Dick Tomey (football) and Lute Olson (men’s basketball) from 1987-93.

Dempsey became the NCAA executive director in 1993 because of the ability he exhibited at Arizona hiring the likes of Olson, Tomey and softball coach Mike Candrea. The men’s and women’s golf programs also reached national success under Dempsey’s watch.

Aside from the benefactor’s proposal (the person has yet to be named) Arizona has agreed to contract extensions for Miller, Rodriguez and Byrne, according to the Arizona Republic report. Under conditions of the proposed deals, all three would be under contract through May 31, 2019. The Arizona Board of Regents will vote on the extensions June 6.

The expiration of their current contracts:

— April 30, 2018 for Miller. Under terms of the new agreement, Miller’s annual base salary would increase $100,000 to $1.6 million on June 1, 2018.

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— Nov. 30, 2017 for Rodriguez. The proposed extension would increase Rodriguez’s annual base salary of $1.33 million to $1.5 million. The salary then would increase $100,000 every June 1 through 2018, when it would reach $1.9 million. Rodriguez also earns $495,000 annually for peripheral duties such as radio and TV appearances. Under the proposed deal, that sum would increase to $500,000.

— Sept. 29, 2016 for Byrne. The proposed extension would increase Byrne’s base annual salary of $500,000 to $625,000. The salary then would increase $25,000 each June 1 through 2018, when it would reach $725,000.

According to the Arizona Republic report, a “major university benefactor” has offered to donate 500,000 units of a Master Limited Partnership (MLP) to the University of Arizona Foundation for the purposes of supporting the university to keep Miller, Rodriguez and Byrne in Tucson.

According to the documents, as of May 12, the total donation value is approximately $17.68 million. The units would be managed by Barclay’s for eight years, during which time quarterly distributions of net income on 450,000 units would be distributed for athletics operational purposes. 50,000 units would be held for non-athletics purposes, with quarterly distributions to be used at the university president’s discretion.

If Miller and Rodriguez are still employed at Arizona in eight years, they would receive a distribution of 175,000 units or may opt to have the units sold and receive the cash derived from the sale. If they are terminated without cause before the end of the eight-year period, they would receive a pro-rated share of the unit value through the first four years.

If they decide to leave Arizona or are terminated with cause at any time over the eight years, they would not receive the units. They would go to the Byrne (if he stays that long) to be used at his discretion in consultation with the donor.

Byrne would receive 100,000 units if he remains Arizona’s athletic director in eight years.

CAT CLAWS:

— Rich Rodriguez, Sean Miller and Greg Byrne would have a small stake in an oil and gas company if they stay at Arizona through at least 2022. Wonder how long it will take for other donors at other schools to follow suit?

— Not to pat myself on the back but I tweeted this when Boston secured the No. 6 spot in the NBA draft last week: Former Arizona Wildcats basketball forward Aaron Gordon will be picked by the Celtics unless somebody else trades up. Count on it.

— The Arizona Wildcats are at 100 to 1 odds of winning the national championship. They are behind Oregon (6/1), UCLA (20/1), Stanford (33/1), ASU (35/1) … with practically all of the Sun Devils’ defense gone? … and USC (60/1).

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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