Stringer's four-year contract extension includes $700,000 salary, achievement incentives
Although she had already begun recruiting for next season, C. Vivian Stringer was unavailable for comment to the media in the weeks that followed a flight home from El Paso, Texas.
Even after the Rutgers women's basketball team secured its first-ever WNIT Championship on April 5, the elephant in the room remained. Stringer, after 19 seasons in Piscataway, still had a contract set to expire June 30.
The Hall of Fame head coach insisted back on Feb. 28 that she and Athletic Director Julie Hermann were in the final stages of negotiating a new contract. But even as the Scarlet Knights continued to enjoy a resurgent season, uncertainty clouded Stringer's future.
All the speculation was finally put to rest yesterday when Hermann announced an agreement with Stringer on a four-year contract extension.
"It's a privilege to have our iconic Hall of Fame coach lead our program into the Big Ten Conference,” Hermann said in a statement. “Watching her steer our young team through the WNIT to a title is a sign of the foundation she has laid for our future success."
The agreement appears to be contingent on that future success.
Rutgers didn't formally announce the deal's terms, but Gannett New Jersey reports through contractual information it obtained that Stringer will make $700,000 annually, with two of the four years fully guaranteed. Her base salary is $550,000 ¬— the same as head men's basketball coach Eddie Jordan's.
At face value, it is a significant pay cut from the $1.035 million salary Stringer averaged under her previous seven-year deal, but there are reportedly plenty of achievement incentives to get her back in that range.
For each NCAA Tournament she guides Rutgers to over the next four years, Stringer will receive a $100,000 bonus. Each win in the first three rounds will earn her $50,000, and if she makes at least one Sweet Sixteen appearance, Stringer will haul in a $500,000 bonus after the contract expires.
Another trip to the Final Four would land her $100,000, while a national championship game appearance earns $50,000. If Stringer can secure her first NCAA crown, that's another $100,000.
Other reported incentives include conference titles, Coach of the Year recognitions, classroom achievement and increased fan attendance.
“I know that fans can be excited for the upcoming season with the amount of talent we have returning, as well as the competiveness we will face in the Big Ten,” Stringer said in a statement. “Preparation for the next season began as soon as we returned from Texas from the WNIT championship, and I’m looking forward to building upon that success. I would like to say I’m excited to start, but we have already started the journey."
Such incentive-heavy stipulations are part of Stringer's new deal likely because of recent program shortcomings.
Since advancing to the 2007 NCAA Championship game, Rutgers has made the Sweet Sixteen only once and missed the tournament entirely each of the last two years, snapping a straight of 10 straight appearances.
Winning a WNIT crown with a young roster proved Stringer's time around the game has not passed, but the one achievement that continues to elude her is a national championship.
The Hall of Famer has led three different teams to a Final Four — twice at Rutgers — and is one of only six women's basketball coaches with at least 900 wins. Stringer needs to average only 17.75 wins over the next four years to become just the second Division I college basketball coach — men's or women's — to reach the 1,000-win plateau.
With a new deal that will allow her to coach at Rutgers into her 70s, the 66-year-old has the chance to validate her resume.
Now, she must make good on it.
“It is now time to focus on the next era in Rutgers Athletics, as we join the prestigious Big Ten Conference and continue our quest for a national championship,” Stringer said. “Each and every day I feel blessed to wake up and have an unwavering passion to do a job I love – coach basketball, teach young people and make a difference in the lives of each and every young woman that comes through our program.”