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Set for life

CRAWFORD | Louisville, wisely, moves to lock up McDonnell for the long haul

  • 2 min to read

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There is probably no better example of what can be accomplished at the University of Louisville than baseball coach Dan McDonnell.

He took over an emerging program in 2006 but one that had never been to the College World Series and only once had advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Over the past 13 years, he has built Louisville into a national power, the winningest program in the NCAA since 2007. He has led the Cardinals to five trips to the College World Series, won eight regional championships had had 84 players selected in the MLB Draft.

He's also been a goodwill ambassador for the university and was a shining light during a dark time for the athletic department. His success, and the way he has achieved it, is a ready-made example for university leadership looking to show what is possible at the school.

A guy like that, you'd like to hold onto. On Friday, the university completed its best pitch, an contract written with the goal of keeping McDonnell in the Jim Patterson Stadium dugout for the rest of his coaching career.

U of L's Athletic Association approved a seven-year contract with options for McDonnell to extend the deal for one year after every season. Louisville Athletics Director Vince Tyra said that the goal was to build a contract that would keep McDonnell, regardless of future suitors.

“We talked to Dan last year when he was being approached by other schools, one in particular, and we worked quick to try to get something in place for him with the notion that we would look for something longer-term, for him to be our coach for life here,” Tyra said. “And that’s what we did today, to try to get something in place that we are both in full agreement on, that he’ll remain here for the term of his career, which is nice for us and nice for Julie and Dan.”

Along with a tradition of postseason success came a just-as-reliable tradition of other schools coming after McDonnell. Most high-profile programs would be happy to have him. This should make those overtures less attractive.

McDonnell, with a base salary of $1.15 million per year, already was the second-highest-paid coach in college baseball, with only his friend Tim Corbin, the coach at Vanderbilt, ahead of him. This deal will increase his salary by $50,000 each season. It also will pay him a $250,000 bonus if he remains under contract at the end of the 2020 fiscal year and $300,000 bonuses if he remains under contract at the end of the 2025 and 2028 fiscal years.

McDonnell also is due a bonus of $25,000 if Louisville reaches an NCAA regional — which it has done 12 times in his 13 season — and $25,000 more if it reaches the Super Regional. A College World Series trip earns McDonnell a bonus of $50,000, and an NCAA championship would bring a bonus of $150,000.

Other bonuses include $50,000 for an APR score above 950 and $25,000 for a team grade-point average above 3.0. If he wins national coach of the year, he gets $25,000.

Louisville baseball is concluding its annual “Pizza Bowl” series of intrasquad games Friday night at Jim Patterson Stadium beginning at 6 p.m. The Cardinals were ranked No. 4 in an early 2020 preseason poll by NCAA.com. They were ranked No. 3 by Baseball America for last season, following the College World Series.

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