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WCHA Coaching Salaries

Matt Christians

All ten schools in the WCHA are public institutions, which means the head coach at each school is a public employee, making their contract a matter of public record. The good folks at decided to compile all that information and put it in one handy place--minus Alabama-Huntsville, who objected to a Freedom of Information Act  request from a non-resident.

Here is their table of information.

The results aren't particularly surprising, but still interesting. Mike Hastings recent contract extension at Minnesota State makes him the highest-paid coach in the league. Though Hastings and Bemidji State head coach Tom Serratore are not eligible for additional compensation as members of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities faculty union. The most incentive-laden contract belongs to Bowling Green head coach Chris Bergeron, who can earn up to an additional $75k, including a bonus for reaching a certain home attendance threshold.

What's also striking is how many coaches in the league have long-term contracts. Four coaches--Hastings, Serratore, Bergeron and Mel Pearson--are all signed to contracts longer than five years. It speaks to the strength of the league that so many teams are comfortable with their coaching situation.

Mel Pearson's contract with Michigan Tech is the most noteworthy of the bunch. As soon as Tech hired Pearson, speculation began that it was just a pit stop for Pearson until Red Berenson retired and Pearson was able to take over as head coach at Michigan. In the ensuing years, Peason has turned Tech into a successful program, while Michigan has missed the NCAA Tournament each of the past three seasons, which has only fueled that speculation.

Michigan Tech has some protection from Pearson leaving in the form of a hefty buyout. His current buyout is $300,000 until May of next year, then decreases in $50,000 increments each remaining year of the contract. Is that enough money to scare away Michigan from going after Pearson? Most likely not. But it might be enough to change the financial equation when comparing Pearson against some of the other candidates that might be interested in the Michigan job, and also gives Michigan Tech some extra money to make a big hire should they need to replace Pearson.

There is also some added incentive for Pearson to stay at Michigan Tech with a deferred compensation plan that nets him an extra $50,000 plus interest for every year he stays under contract. Again, it would likely take little effort for MIchigan to match or exceed that money, but would certainly make it more difficult for Pearson to leave.