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UMD announces contract extension for sought-after Sandelin: New deal for coach runs through 2025

Minnesota Duluth players celebrate with head coach Scott Sandelin Saturday after defeating Massachusetts 3-0 in the NCAA Championship at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, N.Y., on April 13. Clint Austin / Forum News Service

DULUTH -- Despite a potential NHL suitor for Scott Sandelin’s services on the West Coast, Minnesota Duluth is moving forward with its plans to keep the three-time national championship coach on the Fresh Coast through 2025.

The Bulldogs announced a contract extension for Sandelin on Friday morning that will go before the University of Minnesota Board of Regents for approval during next week’s meeting.

According to a copy of the proposed contract — signed on June 1 by Sandelin, athletic director Josh Berlo and UMD chancellor Lendley Black — that has been posted to the regents’ website, it’s a four-year extension that runs through the 2024-25 season. It will pay Sandelin a base salary of $400,000 in 2019-20, when he and the Bulldogs attempt to become the first school to three-peat as NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey champions since Michigan in 1951, ‘52 and ‘53.

UMD’s coach for the last 19 seasons was in Southern California on Monday interviewing with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, who are searching for a head coach after firing Randy Carlyle in February.

Berlo and Sandelin said the two sides have been working on the extension for some time and they came to an agreement at the end of last season’s national championship run, well before the Ducks flew into the picture.

Berlo reiterated what he said earlier in the week upon learning Sandelin interviewed to be an NHL head coach: The university supports Sandelin’s exploration of coaching at the absolute pinnacle of his profession.

That support means a lot to Sandelin, the coach said Friday.

“It’s been a process, not something that came about because of Anaheim,” said Sandelin, the 54-year-old native of Hibbing. “I’ve enjoyed my time here. Certainly when you are around the group of players and staff that I have, it makes it fun to come to work. We want to keep doing what we’ve been doing.

“Right now it was just an interview. My focus right now is to keep doing what I’ve been doing here. I plan on doing that until something changes. They certainly know that and respect that. I think that means a lot.”

Sandelin is coming off back-to-back national championship seasons with the Bulldogs and three straight NCAA championship game appearances after getting the program it’s first title in 2011. He’s the program’s all-time winningest coach with a record of 369-311-87. His 21-6 record in the NCAA tournament gives him the best winning percentage (.778) among active NCAA coaches and puts him second all-time to Minnesota’s Herb Brooks (.889) and Michigan’s Vic Heyliger (.800).

Sandelin had two years remaining on his 2016 extension that paid him $330,000 in 2019-20 and $350,000 in 20-21. Now he’ll make $400,000 in 2019-20 — excluding bonuses and incentives — with a raise of $10,000 per year after that, topping out at $450,000 in 2024-25.

The university’s contribution to Sandelin’s supplemental retirement plan will also increase from $50,000 per season to $100,000 per season, starting with 2019-20.

The bonus pool for Sandelin and his staff also increased. The head coach can now potentially take in another $160,000, up from $75,000, for success in the NCHC and NCAA tournaments. Another $84,000, up from $50,000, is available for the associate and assistant coaches while a new $9,000 pool was created for the director of operations.

All of the bonuses for Sandelin and his staff are retroactive to the 2018-19 championship season.

To help offset some of these costs, a provision was added to the contract requiring Sandelin to use his “best efforts” to ensure 50 percent of non-exempt, non-exhibition, non-conference games each season are played at home at Amsoil Arena, with opponents to be approved by the athletic director.

“I think this is great news for the university and the community,” Berlo said of the deal. “It’s competitive; it’s feasible. We’ve been able to increase revenues and philanthropy to make this a reality. It’s good for everybody.”

Sandelin’s raise will put him among the highest paid hockey coaches in the NCHC and in the state of Minnesota, but not at the top of either, despite him being the most successful coach in the league and state.

North Dakota’s Brad Berry, who won a national championship as a rookie head coach with the Fighting Hawks in 2015-16, continues to edge out Sandelin in the NCHC. According to the Grand Forks Herald, the five-year extension Berry signed in 2018 will pay him a base of $412,000 in 2019-20. His deal tops out at $450,000 in the final year of 2022-23.

In Minnesota, Sandelin falls in between a WCHA and Big 10 rival.

According to the Mankato Free Press, the 10-year contract Minnesota State-Mankato coach Mike Hastings signed in 2017 maxes out at $350,000 per year.

Minnesota’s Bob Motzko — who, like Hastings, is also still seeking his first NCAA title as a head coach — is scheduled to make a base $565,000 in 2019-20, according to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune report from when the coach was hired away from St. Cloud State after the 2017-18 season.

Motzko’s current deal with the Gophers runs through 2022-23, when he’s scheduled to make a base of $654,057.

Motzko’s contract is in line with the rest of the Big 10, where Wisconsin’s Tony Granato will be paid $575,000 in 2019-20, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Granato — who is 48-52-10 at the helm of the Badgers after three seasons with no NCAA tournament appearances — is scheduled to make $600,000 in 2020-21 and thereafter.

“Under Scott’s leadership, the UMD men’s hockey program has provided incredible value through exposure on comprehensive institutional success,” Berlo said in the university’s announcement of Sandelin’s extension. “The program’s recent achievements have generated over $20 million in earned media attention that shines a spotlight on the impressive academics, vibrant student life, groundbreaking research and exciting faculty accomplishments at the University of Minnesota Duluth.”