UCLA gives coach Mick Cronin a new six-year contract


Tear up that contract that’s less than a year old. Mick Cronin has something much better now.

Just hours before his team’s NCAA tournament opener, the UCLA basketball coach was rewarded Thursday with a new six-year contract that is expected to make him the highest-paid coach at the Pac-12 conference.

The new deal, which runs through the 2027-28 season, replaces the two-year extension he signed after guiding the Bruins to the Final Four last year. The previous contract was supposed to pay him $3.7 million a year.

UCLA proactively secured Cronin’s replacement contract after it was believed Louisville had expressed a strong interest in the coach, who was once an assistant at the school under Rick Pitino. The Cardinals are expected to announce Friday the hiring of Kenny Payne, an assistant with the New York Knicks who won a national championship in Louisville in 1986.

“Mick Cronin is one of the best coaches in the country, and this contract demonstrates our commitment to keeping him at UCLA and fighting for national championships,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “Mick is the right leader for our program because he knows what it means to represent the four letters, doesn’t settle for anything less than an elite program and wins with integrity. He’s done a great job of developing young men and his players respect him.”

Cronin, 50, has led the Bruins to the NCAA tournament each of the last two seasons, and his first UCLA team might have qualified after a late-season surge in which they won 11 of 14 games before the COVID -19 Pandemic the pandemic ended conference and NCAA tournaments. Fourth-seeded UCLA (25-7) will play 13th-seeded Akron (24-9) in Round 1 at the Moda Center.

Cronin has a 66-29 record with the Bruins, his team finished second in the Pac-12 this season after winning conference play 15-5. He is the only active coach to have led his teams to the last 11 NCAA tournaments, along with Gonzaga’s Mark Few, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Kansas’ Bill Self.

“I believe we’ve created a culture of success and greatness of competition at UCLA,” Cronin said in a statement. “I am fully committed to completing this process with the goal of becoming a national champion and one of the elite programs in college basketball. I am grateful for the commitment of UCLA and Chancellor in particular [Gene] Block and Martin Jarmond for trusting me to continue to push this program forward.”

Cronin’s 431 career wins is more than any other NCAA Division I coach 50 or younger. His teams have averaged 25.1 wins per year over the past 12 seasons.

Best known for being a strong defensive coach, Cronin’s current team is elite on both sides of the ball and ranks 12th in defensive efficiency and 14th in offensive efficiency nationally, according to basketball analyst Ken Pomeroy. UCLA led the Pac-12 in point defenses (64.8 points per game) while also committing the fewest turnovers (9.2 per game). UCLA gives coach Mick Cronin a new six-year contract

Andrew Schnitker

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