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Beyond the Scoreboard: Money talks, McDevitt walks

Beyond the Scoreboard: Money talks, McDevitt walks
Nick McDevitt's annual salary grew by more than five times when he left UNC Asheville to become the men's basketball coach at Middle Tennessee State. (Photo credit: UNC Asheville)

How’s this for a good couple of days?

Last Thursday, UNC Asheville coach Nick McDevitt and wife Lauren had their second child.

On Friday, he switched jobs, moved one state over and agreed to a contract that will pay him more than five times his annual salary with the Bulldogs.

No one is asking why McDevitt, who took a good Asheville program and made it better in five years as head coach, left for Middle Tennessee State.

In addition to the obvious, cliched answer like he wanted to take a step up in competition and see how he competes at a higher mid-major, the money was so much more he couldn’t say no.

His five-year contract at MTSU, a strong program in Conference USA, is worth $750,000 a year, $3.750 million total.

With his last contract at Asheville that paid $144,000 per year, it would take him five years to go past $700,000 and he would still be $30,000 short of his per annum in the new job.

He will make more in his first season at MTSU than he did in five years in Asheville of building an impressive 98-66 record with three Big South titles (two regular-season, one tourney), three straight postseason appearances (2016-18) and three straight 20-wins records his last three seasons.

His five-year take of $3.750 million as head coach of the Blue Raiders?

It would take 26 years at Asheville to make that much.

Everything is bigger in Murfreesboro. A good crowd for the Bulldogs’ games at Kimmel Arena is 2,000. Five times higher again, the Murphy Center averaged more than 10,000 in its last two home games.

And the drive west toward the Volunteer State may not be over. At his introductory press conference at MTSU on Tuesday, McDevitt talked about his hope that his Asheville staff – assistants Sean Dixon, Logan Johnson and Wes Long – might join him.

And that also could come down to the green. The combined salaries of the Bulldogs’ three assistants is $135,825, an average of $45,275 that is pitifully low for a Division I program.

The salary pool for three assistants at MTSU is $450,000, which means the trio of Asheville assistants could in a couple of cases more than triple their current pay if McDevitt gave each $150,000 annually.

So McDevitt is off to much greener, greener pastures.

And Asheville is left with a fan base accustomed to success and playing in March and a paltry pay scale that suggests that will be very hard to pull off.

Fans of the program remember how McDevitt got his chance. Coach Eddie Biedenbach, after taking the program to a trio of NCAA tournaments and building the Bulldogs into the Big South’s best and most consistent program, was the dean of league coaches and the all-time winningiest.

He was also the lowest paid at $108,000, and his last raise came with a contract that insisted that he play $375,000 worth of money games to earn that paltry sum.

Biedenbach, paid less than some Big South assistants, was fed up and left to take an assistant’s job at Wilmington that paid better.

The financial situation at Asheville is no better these days, and it turns out they got McDevitt for a bargain. A study a couple of years ago showed McDevitt ranked No. 1 in the country in wins vs. salary, costing the school just $5,000 a victory.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski costs $260,000 a win.

The Bulldogs got lucky that McDevitt, a Bulldog for 21 straight years since he arrived as a freshman from Madison County, was willing to take the job at a low price in order to become a head coach for the first time.

And they were even luckier that he turned out to be so talented that he took the program to unprecedented heights before he left.

The guess here is Asheville’s luck may be about to run out.

With Biedenbach and McDevitt, you get what you pay for was a misnomer. Both performed way beyond what their salaries.

Continuing to think you can get away with low pay and high results is a move that is expected with the Bulldogs’ braintrust, but not very likely to succeed.

This is the opinion of Keith Jarrett. Contact him at keithjarrettasheville@gmail.com

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