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Steve Pikiell’s value to Rutgers is rightly rewarded



Photo credit Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Pikiell received another contract extension on Thursday, locking him up one additional year through 2031 and restarting the clock on his buyout framework. It is his fourth contract extension since being hired in 2016. Getting this done now was another sign that Rutgers is committed to keeping Pikiell as long as possible. The university continuing to value the success and stability that Pikiell brings to the men’s basketball program never gets old. After decades of scandal and mismanagement on the hardwood, Rutgers continues to rise under Pikiell.

The current deal is now worth $30.8 million over eight years that includes retention bonuses. His buyout will now remain at $15 million through April 2024 and reduces by $2 million each year thereafter of the contract.

Although Pikiell received a significant extension just 11 months ago, he has moved the program even farther along since then. Currently tied for second place in the Big Ten past the midway point of the season, it has not been a rebuilding year like some feared following the departures of Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker. Top 40 recruit Gavin Griffiths is signed and set to enroll in a few months. The 2024 class could end up ranked in the top 5 nationally with 5-star big man Ace Bailey and 4-star point guard Dellquan Warren currently committed.

While Pikiell absolutely deserves the additional year and pay from this extension, the most important part from the Rutgers perspective is the buyout. Extending the $15 million ceiling another year ahead of an offseason when the Notre Dame job is open along with potential interest from others that become available is just smart. Deterring potential suitors out of the gate is why this move was the right one by Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs and the university. It’s not an insurmountable number for a handful of schools, but certainly adds a significant obstacle for them. It is also a no go for the overwhelming majority of schools now and in the future.

Pikiell has proven that he is leading this program the right way both on and off the court. It’s a fair argument to make that he is the best brand ambassador that Rutgers has currently across the university. He has embraced the community and added value to it. Stories of his kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity are too many to include in this article.

He’s a class act and his players continue to contribute in a positive way outside of basketball. Off the court, the program has always led by example under head coach Steve Pikiell. They’ve excelled academically throughout his tenure. Players have been involved with social change issues throughout the years. Recent examples are Cliff Omoruyi’s shoe drive for his native Nigeria as well as Paul Mulcahy’s current donation campaign for mothers and babies.

It also feels appropriate that Pikiell’s extension went through the day after his team delivered the program’s largest margin of victory against a Big Ten opponent since joining the league. It’s symbolic of how far Rutgers has come in his tenure. This program was routinely on the other side of those lopsided scores for years. Now the tables have turned.

There is a long way to go this season but the outlook is promising. Rutgers is in position to finish in the top four of the Big Ten in back to back years. They are also in line to earn an NCAA Tournament berth for a program record third straight time.

The administration wisely values Pikiell and didn’t hesitate in acting once again. With the program’s trajectory continuing to rise despite all the progress made, it feels like the question has changed. It’s no longer whether Pikiell will be extended, but when will happen again? A dramatic difference indeed after the program hired and fired five different coaches over 20 or so years before his arrival.

Better days have been around for awhile now. The possibility of even better days ahead, both in the short and long term, remains strong. It’s a new reality that Rutgers fans should cherish. biggest reason why is Steve Pikiell.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. BataliBoli98

    February 3, 2023 at 4:38 pm

    It seems like yesterday that people came on the message boards to say that Pikiell wouldn’t make it in the long term because he couldn’t recruit the top kids. That he just got lucky with landing Cliff because of COVID. I said from the beginning that my hope for Pikiell, and all of us, was that he would turn out to be just like his mentor. Jim Calhoun built UCONN with athletes who went all out on defense and they were always tougher than their opponent. I’m sure that during his build that Jim got many offers to jump to a bigger name program but he stayed and won big. Go Coach Pikiell and Go RU!

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