On one-year contracts …

Interesting news out of Grand Forks earlier this week (mercifully) not related to the nickname controversy.

The University of North Dakota gave three-year contract extensions to football coach Chris Mussman and men’s basketball coach Brian Jones. Mussman was given a base salary of $114,612 and Jones $86,334.

The dollar figures are what caught my attention in that both rank last in their respective sports out of the four NCAA Division I schools in the Dakotas. Closest to Mussman: USD’s Joe Glenn at $127,260. Closest to Jones: USD’s Dave Boots at $122,780. Meanwhile, the guys on the high end are making almost double.

Let’s stop there, for a second. Certainly, Mussman doesn’t have the same background, years of experience or level of success as NDSU counterpart Craig Bohl. Ditto for Jones compared to say, SDSU’s Scott Nagy. These are relatively young guys and UND began its D-I transition later than the Bison and the Jacks. And this doesn’t take into account incentives. Why? Because I don’t have quick access to all of those stats plus it’s hard to imagine the guys in Grand Forks having more incentives than Bohl, who could realistically earn another $100K per year.

But the numbers are surprising in the sense that UND has the largest athletic budget in the Dakotas and the most D-I experience given that its hockey team has long been a national power. This reinforces the idea that football and basketball continue to trail hockey by a considerable margin in terms of importance in Grand Forks.

However, it also demonstrates that SDSU and USD have done a respectable job of boosting coaches pay, getting it in line with peers. That was one of the more awkward and complex parts of the transition – suddenly paying the same people way more money to do (essentially) the same job.

And that is necessary in light of the state policy that prohibits multi-year contracts. Would you rather be Nagy making $152,000 this season with no guarantee for the future or Jones making $86,334 per (plus assumed raises) for three years? As someone who has never had any sort of contract, I know which one I’d choose. (Hint: It’s the one with almost twice as much money.)

Marked differences like that might allow South Dakota to put off dealing with the one-year contract issue for a while longer.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.