CU Buffs hoops coach Tad Boyle and CSU’s Niko Medved are state treasures. But even state treasures don’t leave money on the table forever.
Tad Boyle and Niko Medved are state treasures. They produce pros. They graduate kids. They espouse defense and character. They don’t just preach the right things. They actually practice them. They’ll take on any blue blood program, anywhere. They win. A lot.
Also, they get it.
They’re hoops guys in a football zip code, college guys in the shadow of a pro town. A year ago, Boyle, CU’s longtime men’s basketballcoach, actually gave his $105,000 NCAA tourney bonus back to the athletic department.
Meanwhile, even in a pandemic, Medved remains Colorado’s best bargain. This past November, the CSU men’s hoops coach signed an extension that pays him $750,000 through the 2025-26 school year. The catch? Medved had been slated to make $775,000 in 2021-22 and $800,000 in 2022-23 under the terms of his original agreement with the school.
After his Rams just posted a 17-5 record overall, 14-4 in the Mountain West, can you imagine the kind of scratch Niko could command on the open market now?
“(Medved) is such a team player, a selfless guy,” CSU athletic director Joe Parker told me recently. “The compensation stayed flat over the life of the extension, so that was a pretty unselfish move on his part … understanding the impact of (where) we’re going, with zero self-generated revenues and some uncertainty the next two fiscal years, looking forward.
“So he gave us a real gift in helping us kind of manage some tight budgets that we’re going to see in the future.”
They’re the gifts, both of them, that keep on giving. Just ask their peers.
Longtime college basketball scribe Jeff Goodman, now with the Stadium network, polled Mountain West basketball coaches two springs ago, pre-coronavirus, and asked them to rank league jobs in eight categories and overall.
CSU wound up rated as the sixth most attractive gig, squarely in the Mountain West’s middle. And the only individual categories that rival coaches considered the Rams to be among the best four in the league were “budget/resources” (fourth), and “buy games” (third).
San Diego State was viewed as the No. 1 job overall; UNLV, No. 2; New Mexico, No. 3; Nevada, No. 4; Boise State, No. 5; Wyoming, No. 8; Air Force, 10th.
When Goodman asked the Pac-12’s wingtips the same question, they were even less kind to Boulder. League coaches slotted the CU job as only the 10th most attractive in the Pac-12, given similar criteria.
Among peer schools, that outpaced only Oregon State and Washington State, a pair of absolute coaching graveyards. Yet another reason why Boyle and his staff deserve more love, especially when your kids start complaining that the Buffs’ ceiling is too low.
Boyle and CU (20-7, 14-6 Pac-12) have already punched an at-large ticket to the NCAA Tournament and can spend League Tournament Week sweetening their seed. The Buffs are 41-18 (.695) over the last two seasons. The Rams, who have work to do starting Thursday at the Mountain West tourney, are 37-17 (.685) since the fall of 2019.
Fun fact: That’s the first time both the Buffs and Rams have won more than 63% of their games, over the same two-year stretch, since 2011-13. And only the second time that’s happened, concurrently, since 1970.
“That’s the challenge, I think, for a lot of schools,” Parker said. “There’s only a few, I think, that have the luxury of identifying a highly-talented coach and always being able to keep them engaged.”
Should Medved suddenly become engaged by a university with deeper pockets, he’d owe 25% of the remaining base salary on the contract. Factoring in the next five seasons, that’s an estimated buyout of $937,500.
Which, as Michigan State taught us all last year, is peanuts for a desperate Big Ten program with itchy boosters.
“I mean, that’s the situation we’re in,” Parker continued. “But you know, Niko came here for a reason. He cares about the institution. I think (his wife) Erica really likes being here in Fort Collins. I certainly feel like the relationship that Niko and I have is a strong one and that’s, I think, important, to have a strong alignment, and we want to accomplish great things.
“Of course, if an opportunity comes forward that makes sense for them as a family, that will be a challenge for us. But it’s better than the alternative, right?”
Amen. Parker knows. COVID smashed the market, but eventually, that market’s going to rebound. And at some point, even state treasures stop leaving money on the table.