Nevada signs Musselman to 5-year contract
RENO – Eric Musselman, who led Nevada to its first NCAA appearance in 10 years, has officially signed a new five-year contract to coach the Pack through the 2021-22 campaign.
Musselman guided the Wolf Pack to both the regular-season title and conference championship en route to a 28-7 record. He’s 52-21 at Nevada.
Terms of the new contract weren’t disclosed. Musselman’s base salary was $400,000. Athletic director Doug Knuth said the new contract was being processed, and the terms would be available today. He’s expected to become the highest-paid coach in Nevada history.
Knuth was quick to point out the additional compensation which is expected to boost Musselman’s salary near or at seven figures is being generated mainly from private donors and community support through ticket sales. No state money or student fees is being used. According to Knuth, a group of private donors signed multi-year pledges through the UNR Foundation to assist with the compensation.
“My family and I couldn’t be happier to be part of the University of Nevada and the Northern Nevada community,” Musselman said. “We are very grateful to President (Marc) Johnson and Doug Knuth for the commitment they have made to me and the University of Nevada basketball program. We have amazing donors and fans fuel us with their incredible enthusiasm and unwavering support.
“This is going to help us in so many ways from a recruiting standpoint and give our program stability.”
Musselman said he and his wife, Danyelle, are going to donate back to Nevada $50,000 a year as a “show of gratitude.”
“We’re excited about the direction that coach Muss has his program going on,” said Knuth. “It’s been a lot of fun for us to watch this resurgence.
“I’m not surprised on the quick turnaround. Anyone who knows Eric Musselman knows the kind of commitment he brings.”
And, don’t forget energy. There probably isn’t a moment in the day when Musselman’s mind isn’t on the game.
“Coach Musselman has revitalized our men’s basketball program in a rather historic manner,” Johnson said in a press release. “We are pleased that coach Musselman will remain our basketball coach for many years to come.”
Musselman, who interviewed at Cal in the off-season, has added four Division 1 transfers, all of whom will have to sit out the coming season.
In a span of two weeks, he signed Portland’s Jazz Johnson (15.8 per game), Tre’Shawn Thurman from University of Omaha (13.7), Rice’s Marquez Letcher-Ellis (7.7) and Bryant’s Nisre Zouzoua (20.3). Thurman is a sit one and play one, and the other three will sit one and play two.
“I think they will all be impactful players,” Musselman said. “Two combo guards (Johnson and Zouzoua) and two versatile forwards.
“We have four players we can touch (work with) every day during their developmental year and help us the last two years. We have four guys that can come in and challenge our current team. It worked for us in years one and two.”
Musselman will have four former redshirts – Kendall Stephens, Caleb and Cody Morris and point guard Hallice Cooke – on the active roster. Stephens and Cody Morris are small forwards, Caleb Morris is a shooting guard and Cooke will back up Lindsey Drew at point guard.
They will join Jordan Caroline, Drew, Josh Hall and Leland King III.
Also returning to the team is 6-8, 230-pound Elijah Foster, who was suspended last year after a domestic battery charge was filed against him. The charge was later dropped with cause.
He remained a student in good standing, and Musselman decided to give him a second chance.
“I’m proud of his growth and maturity in the last six months,” Musselman said. Foster averaged 12 points a game before his suspension.
Musselman said he’s trying to fill four more games on the nonconference schedule. He said the team will play in a tournament in Las Vegas around Christmas, and he’s hopeful he can announce a neutral-court game against a BCS opponent in the coming weeks.
The coach said it has become increasingly harder to schedule opponents. Not surprising considering Nevada’s recent success.