Open-records report | 20 things to know about Big Ten women’s basketball coaching contracts

By Chicago 12 Min Read

Shauna Green at Esquire

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Illinois women’s basketball coach Shauna Green, left, chats with Pam Cook of Urbana before Green appeared on ‘Monday Night SportsTalk,’ at the Esquire in downtown Champaign.

Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette

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Slowly but surely, women’s basketball coaching salaries are inching upwards — but still a couple fullcourt shots away from matching the men.

When the 2023-24 women’s season tips off in 10 days, there will be a Big Ten record five seven-figures-a-year earners coaching conference teams. That’s nine fewer than on the men’s side, which is one Ben Johnson raise at Minnesota away from having every coach make more than $2 million a year.

In Part 7 of Editor JEFF D’ALESSIO’s ongoing explanatory series on the business side of college athletics, here’s a closer look at what’s in Big Ten women’s basketball coaches contracts, a dozen of which were obtained by The News-Gazette via an open-records request.

Brenda Frese

Brenda Frese


1. The only current Big Ten women’s basketball coach with a Division I national title on her resume is paid like it. Brenda Frese, who won it all with MARYLAND (then of the ACC) in 2006, will earn no less than $1.8 million this season — $350,000 more than she was making before a raise last year.

Among 21 seasons at Maryland, one at MINNESOTA and two at BALL STATE, she’s 42-17 when it matters most — the NCAA tournament — with three Final Fours and two Associated Press national coach of the year awards.

For comparison’s sake, Terps men’s coach Kevin Willard is 2-6 in NCAA tournament games, earning an invite in six of his 15 seasons at Maryland, SETON HALL and IONA. His guaranteed compensation this year: $4 million.

WBB Marisa Moseley.jpeg

Marisa Moseley

2. Here’s how the guaranteed pay packages between men’s and women’s basketball coaches compare on 12 Big Ten campuses, not including retention bonuses, retirement contributions, life-insurance payments or performance incentives. (Excluded: the two schools that aren’t legally obligated to make contracts publicly available— NORTHWESTERN and PENN STATE).

— Illinois: Shauna Green, $840,000; Brad Underwood, $4.2 million— Indiana: Teri Moren, $1.3 million; Mike Woodson, $4.2 million— Iowa: Lisa Bluder, $1.4 million; Fran McCaffery, $3.3 million— Maryland: Brenda Frese, $1.8 million; Kevin Willard, $4.0 million— Michigan: Kim Barnes Arico, $840,500; Juwan Howard, $3.38 million— Michigan State: Robyn Fralick, $1 million; Tom Izzo, $5.92 million

— Minnesota: Dawn Plitzuweit, $800,00; Ben Johnson, $1.95 million— Nebraska: Amy Williams, $715,000; Fred Hoiberg, $3.5 million— Ohio State: Kevin McGuff, $1.04 million; Chris Holtmann, $3.27 million— Purdue: Katie Gearlds, $599,996; Matt Painter, $3.05 million— Rutgers: Coquese Washington, $750,000; Steve Pikiell, $3.25 million— Wisconsin: Marisa Moseley, $658,000; Greg Gard, $3.65 million

Iowa Bluder and Clark

What will Iowa’s Lisa Bluder, left, and all-everything guard Caitlin Clark do for an encore after last season’s run to the national championship game?

The Associated Press

3. When we last left the Midwest’s high-scoring heroes, Caitlin Clark was making like Steph Curry before packed houses at IOWA, and ILLINOIS was drawing crowds not seen in decades under first-year coach Shauna Green.

— If the fan fervor ratchets back up this winter — and Green’s already doing her part, appearing on WHMS’ “Mike in the Morning” show Thursday — two coaches will be rewarded for it:

Like football’s Bret Bielema and men’s basketball’s Underwood, Green’s contract comes with a bonus — $10,000 — if home attendance increases by 10 percent over the previous season.

— Iowa might as well cut Lisa Bluder a check for $65,000 now. That’s how much the coach of the reigning national runner-up makes if ticket revenue exceeds $300,000 any season.

The program that drew an NCAA-record 55,656 fans at the football stadium for an exhibition game this month announced in August via the social media platform formerly known as Twitter that every season ticket had been scooped up at Carver-Hawkeye Arena: “15,000 strong, all season long,” @IowaWBB wrote.

4. The better their student-athletes perform in the classroom, the richer the reward for the head coach. Among those with bonuses tied to team GPA:

WBB Dawn Plitzuweit copy.jpg

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Dawn Plitzuweit

OHIO STATE‘s Kevin McGuff: $50,000 if the team GPA for the combined fall and spring semesters is at or above 3.0, $100,000 for 3.3, $150,000 for 3.5.

ILLINOIS‘ Green: $4,000 for any semester that the team GPA is at or above 2.5, $10,000 for 2.75, $15,000 for 3.0.

MINNESOTA‘s Dawn Plitzuweit: $5,000 for a GPA at or above 3.0 (both semesters), $10,000 for 3.25, $15,000 for 3.5.

5. The most successful rookie year in program history ended with Green qualifying for an extra $60,000 in bonuses tied to basketball games:

Bye or double bye in the Big Ten tournament: $10,00020 regular-season wins: $10,000NCAA tournament appearance: $40,000

6. Other potential postseason bonuses on the horizon for the ILLINOIS coach, all cumulative:

NCAA Round of 32: $15,000NCAA Sweet 16: $30,000NCAA Elite Eight: $45,000NCAA Final Four: $75,000NCAA title game appearance: $100,000NCAA title: $125,000

7. And should ILLINOIS miss out on making the NCAA field of 68 but qualify for the WNIT field of 64, Green would be due an extra $15,000 — plus $15,000 more if her team wins the thing.

8. If Year 2 is anything like Year 1, odds are that the total compensation section of Green’s contract will get a rewrite and a raise. But here’s how it stands for now:

2023-24: $840,0002024-25: $880,0002025-26: $920,0002026-27: $955,0002027-28: $990,000

Kim Mulkey

That’s LSU’s Kim Mulkey, the reigning AP Coach of the Year, on the right, next to AP Player of the Year Aliyah Boston of South Carolina.

The Associated Press

9. The winning coach in the most-watched women’s basketball game on record made more history in the months that followed April’s national championship. Last month, LSU announced a 10-year, $36 million extension for Kim Mulkey, whose $3.6 million average salary is the richest in the history of the sport, surpassing UCONN‘s $2.9 million man, Geno Auriemma.

10. Bluder was also rightfully rewarded for going 31-7 and finishing one win shy of delivering IOWA‘s first NCAA team title this century in a sport other than wrestling. The dean of Big Ten women’s coaches received a $115,000 pay bump, to $1.4 million. That’s exactly double the amount school President Barb Wilson makes.

11. Bluder’s reworked contract comes with another enviable element: No matter whether she retires or splits Iowa City for another coaching job, she’ll receive a lump-sum payment of $500,000 on Jan. 1 following her employment end date.

WBB Katie Gearlds copy.jpg

Katie Gearlds

12. The lone Big Ten program with a national championship in the sport while a member of the conference is a little on the chintzy side when it comes to coaching compensation. Third-year coach Katie Gearlds is due to make a smidge under $600,000 this season at PURDUE — and that’s after a $35,000 raise for making the NCAAs in March.

13. Here’s what an invite to the NCAA tournament is worth to the Big Ten coaches with such a bonus in their contracts:

Iowa’s Bluder: $80,000 (8 percent of base salary)Nebraska’s Amy Williams: $71,500 (10 percent of base salary)Illinois’ Green: $40,000Ohio State’s McGuff: $40,000Purdue’s Gearlds: $35,000 in the form of a pay raiseMaryland’s Frese: $25,000Michigan’s Barnes Arico: $20,000Minnesota’s Plitzuweit: $20,000Rutgers’ Coquese Washington: $15,000Michigan State’s Fralick: $10,000

WBB Kevin McGuff.jpg

Kevin McGuff

14. You won’t find any women running Big Ten men’s basketball programs, but men are in charge of two of the conference’s 14 current members: 67-year-old Joe McKeown (241-198 at NORTHWESTERN) and the 53-year-old McGuff (172-97 at OHIO STATE).

15. Other major conferences have similar makeups, with men leading four of 15 programs in the ACC (LOUISVILLE, N.C. STATE, PITTSBURGH, VIRGINIA TECH), two of 12 in the Pac-12 (OREGON, OREGON STATE) and two of 14 in the SEC (ARKANSAS, MISSISSIPPI STATE).

The lone outlier? The Big 12, where men coach women at half of the 14 schools (HOUSTON, IOWA STATE, KANSAS, KANSAS STATE, TCU, TEXAS and WEST VIRGINIA).

16. The Big Ten’s newest million-bucks-a-year coach just joined the conference In the spring, by way of Bowling Green. MICHIGAN STATE started Robyn Fralick with a base salary of $900,000, plus another $75,000 for media appearances and $25,000 for her “cooperation and participation in” Sparty’s shoe and apparel contract with Nike.

17. In addition to a one-time payment of $19,000 for fellow Big Ten newcomer Plitzuweit to make the move from Morgantown, W.Va., to Minneapolis, MINNESOTA also covered the entire cost of her buyout from WEST VIRGINIA — $360,308.22.

18. Free wheels come with the job of head coach, with IOWA, MICHIGAN and OHIO STATE all springing for two company cars and ILLINOIS offering one plus an $8,000-a-year vehicle stipend.

19. Best transportation-related perks among Big Ten women’s coaches: OHIO STATE‘s McGuff, who receives $12,000 a month to put toward two vehicles; 20 hours of a year of free private jet time for personal use; and up to 25 more hours annually for taking recruiting or university business trips to destinations 250 or miles outside Columbus.

20. While not as lucrative (or frequent) as on the men’s side, retention bonuses are popping up in more and more women’s coaching contracts:

— If Bluder is still coaching IOWA on June 30, 2024, she’ll pocket an extra $225,000 ($25,000 more than she made on the same dates this year and last year). If she’s still on the job on June 30, 2025, she’ll receive another $250,000.

— If Green is still coaching ILLINOIS on April 30, 2024, she’s due $150,000 — plus another $150,000 on April 30, 2026 and $175,000 on April 30, 2028.

— If Frese is still coaching MARYLAND on May 2, 2024, she gets an extra $150,000, with the same arrangement on May 2, 2026.

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