University of Arizona basketball fans will sleep better Thursday night after the school and Sean Miller agreed to a contract extension through 2022 and raise that will eventually pay him nearly $3 million per year.
The Arizona Board of Regents approved the extension and revised compensation package for Miller, the coach of the fifth-ranked Wildcats. Interim athletic director Erika Barnes presented the university's case to the regents during their meeting in Tempe. The agenda item was a late addition to the meeting.
"Whenever our basketball program has success, the whole UA campus community is excited about it. It brings national attention to our university," Barnes told the Star Thursday. "Sean, he's a huge part of that."
Miller's contract guarantees Miller $2.6 million a year starting in June, with his base salary growing by $100,000 annually until 2020. Miller's 2017-18 contract is made up of a $1.5 million base plus $700,000 for radio, television and speaking engagements and $400,000 in bonuses from Nike and IMG.
Thursday's extension includes 50,000 units in a stock-based longevity fund currently valued at $1.09 million. Those units can be cashed out on May 31, 2022. Miller is already vested in 116,000 units of a publicly-traded master limited partnership, a gift from the donor, and will vest in another 58,000 units on May 31. He can cash out on the 175,000 units starting in 2020.
The 50,000 units that are part of the extension were being held in a trust for athletic director Greg Byrne. Byrne forfeited his rights to 100,000 units by leaving earlier this month for Alabama.
Arizona's ability to retain Miller has been the subject of some concern among Wildcats fans ever since Byrne, the coach's longtime boss and friend, announced his plans to leave the UA. The new five-year deal is another major sign of the university's long-term commitment to the coach. Per ABOR rules, contracts can be no longer than five years in length.
Miller is now on his fourth UA athletic director, counting Barnes and former acting athletic director Kathleen "Rocky" LaRose.
Miller is 208-63 in seven-plus seasons as Arizona's coach. He is a two-time Pac-12 coach of the year.