Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey began his sixth season by signing a new contract. Morry Gash AP
Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey began his sixth season by signing a new contract. Morry Gash AP

Winthrop University

What’s in Winthrop basketball coach Pat Kelsey’s new contract?

By Bret McCormick

bmccormick@heraldonline.com

November 15, 2017 01:29 PM

Winthrop men’s basketball coach Pat Kelsey’s new contract includes a $225,000 buyout.

The agreement, obtained by The Herald via a the Freedom of Information Act request, was signed Nov. 8 and runs through March 31, 2022.

The new deal shows no increase in Kelsey’s base pay; he’ll receive $227,150 per year. But a series of bonuses and the buyout, $75,000 more than the one in his previous contract , may help Winthrop University hang on to its successful coach a bit longer.

“I had people tell me the day I got the job, ‘You’re gonna lose Pat Kelsey,’” said Winthrop athletic director Ken Halpin. “My thing, my philosophy has been, we will do everything we can to keep him, because he’s great for Winthrop, and the day we do lose him it will be for something phenomenal, because he’s an incredible coach.”

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Halpin’s work on the 17-page contract began before the end of last season, and before Kelsey nearly left Winthrop for UMass in March. Kelsey was less than an hour from being introduced as UMass’ new head basketball coach when he changed his mind and backed out for personal reasons. Kelsey returned to Winthrop and began work on his sixth Eagles squad, which opened the 2017-18 season last weekend.

Halpin added that his retention efforts are “ongoing, every day.” That’s the reality at a small Division I institution like Winthrop, which went through some of the same issues 10 years ago, when Gregg Marshall’s dominant run attracted the attention of numerous bigger schools.

If Kelsey continues his recent success, UMass won’t be the last to try and lure Winthrop’s coach away from Rock Hill. The Eagles have won 20 games or more in three of the last four seasons, gone 50-20 in Big South play since 2014, played for four straight conference tournament titles, and reached the NCAA Tournament last spring for the first time since 2010.

Winthrop handled Campbell in Sunday's Big South Conference tournament final, earning its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. The Eagles lost in three straight finals prior to Sunday when they got the job done.

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The new contract acknowledges Kelsey’s growing reputation in coaching circles.

If Kelsey terminates his contract before it expires, Winthrop will be owed $225,000 by either Kelsey or his new employer.

As long as Kelsey stays at Winthrop under the new contract, he’ll be eligible to receive two annual $25,000 retention bonuses. The retention bonus is not guaranteed by the university, but Kelsey is eligible to earn it if he remains the Eagles’ coach on the first day of NCAA-sanctioned practice for the upcoming basketball season. If those bonuses are earned and funded, Kelsey will be paid two equal installments of $25,000 on Nov. 16 and Jan. 16 of the particular basketball season.

“We want to protect the university,” said Halpin, “but also pay him, because he’s a really valuable commodity to the institution.”

Winthrop’s senior men’s basketball standout Xavier Cooks has one final season in Rock Hill. Eagles coach Pat Kelsey talked Tuesday about what makes the Australian such a unique player.

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Kelsey’s deal further stipulates that he’s not eligible for the retention bonuses if his employment as the coach ends for any reason, if he gets suspended for any reason, or if he or any individual associated with the program receives disciplinary action or penalties issued by Winthrop University, the Big South Conference or the NCAA.

Kelsey is also eligible for performance bonuses, provided they’re available at the conclusion of the budget year. They are:

A $10,000 bonus for the basketball team’s selection and appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The bonus is to be paid to Kelsey within 30 days, or as soon as reasonably possible, after the conclusion of the last game of the team’s season, including tournament games, for which the bonus was earned.

A $1 bonus for each men’s basketball home ticket sold above a baseline of 11,151 tickets. The bonus is limited in any one season to a $10,000 amount. The number of tickets sold is determined by reference to Winthrop University’s state monthly sales tax report. This clause was also in Kelsey’s original contract that he signed with Winthrop in 2013.

Kelsey is eligible for academic performance bonuses any year in which he coaches the entire season, and he can be financially penalized if academic performance isn’t up to snuff.

He’ll earn $2,000 if the team earns an average grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and $1,000 if the team’s APR, or academic progress rate, calculated by the NCAA, is higher than 980 in any one year, or higher than 970 in any three-year period average. Winthrop’s men’s basketball APR the last three seasons was 956, 966 and 975.

The amount of the retention bonuses can be lowered by $2,000 if the GPA of the Winthrop men’s basketball’s team drops below 2.75. And any bonus will be further reduced by an additional $1,000 in any year in which the men’s basketball team’s academic progress rate is below 950 for a single academic year, or below 940 on a three-year average. The maximum amount of bonus reduction is $4,000.

Kelsey gets a car and cell phone, paid for by Winthrop, and can hold summer camps in which he keeps all proceeds after paying the university “appropriate but reasonable expenses.”

Kelsey could earn a maximum of $300,150 in a single year if he hit all of the academic, performance and ticketing targets, made the NCAA Tournament and earned both retention bonuses, on top of his annual salary.

“It’s something we’ve been working on and we’re excited to have it in place,” said Halpin. “This is about the future. And every time I see him, he couldn’t be more excited, and the building blocks he’s pulling together are gonna have us continuing to compete to win this conference every year.”