Back in 1995, Mike Candrea had already won three NCAA championship titles, was a runner-up twice and finished in third two times as the University of Arizona softball team’s coach.
Candrea told the Star then that he didn’t want to be coaching when he was 50 years old.
“That’s not me,” he said.
Luckily for the Wildcats, he changed his mind on that subject.
Monday, Arizona announced a five-year contract extension — and raise — for Candrea that will keep him as Arizona’s softball coach until 2022, when he’ll be 66. Fresh off a Pac-12 title, Candrea has no plans to retire anytime soon, and UA athletic director Dave Heeke saw to it that Candrea is coaching UA well into the future.
Candrea, 61, is entering his 32nd season coaching the Wildcats, a career that includes the most Division I wins for any coach in college softball history, with eight national championships, 12 Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards, 11 Pac-12 titles and 22 Women’s College World Series appearances, though the Wildcats haven’t made it to the WCWS since 2010.
“Simply put, Mike Candrea is the greatest coach in the history of softball,” Heeke said in a statement. “During his time as head coach at Arizona, Mike has shown an incredible aptitude to not only produce excellent softball players, but also excellent people, and we couldn’t be happier that he’s agreed to continue to lead our program well into the future.”
Candrea’s extension includes performance bonuses and a raise in his base salary to $345,000, as well as 50,000 units in a master limited partnership that will vest at stages throughout the contract. Candrea’s base salary was at $230,000 as of the 2016-17 school year.
“I’ve been blessed to lead our softball program for the last 32 years,” Candrea said in a statement. “I always tell people that I’ve never worked a day in my life, because I’m doing what I love to do at a special place like Arizona.
“The University, the administration and the Tucson community supports the game of softball, and that isn’t the case everywhere.
“I feel fortunate to be able to continue in my role as head coach and I look forward to seeing what we can do as a program moving forward.”