Razorbacks

Musselman Extends Contract At UofA

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – With comfortable urgency, University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek and Razorbacks Elite Eight Basketball Coach Eric Musselman over weeks quickly, but not hastily came to contract terms.

Their result. announced Wednesday afternoon, greatly raised Musselman’s annual security to $4 million while their negotiating pace never distracted the coach from his ongoing Arkansas tasks at hand even as lucrative head coaching vacancies swirled elsewhere; including the Universities of North Carolina, Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona, among others.

Musselman, 20-12 and 25-7 for his two Arkansas seasons with this past season concluded in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight after finishing second in the SEC, and Yurachek, said their trust in the mutual happiness of Musselman with Arkansas and Arkansas with Yurachek allowed them reasonably quickly, yet patiently, come to terms while Musselman worked through guiding Arkansas’ Elite Eight season and then working recruiting through the transfer portal from which he just added coveted grad transfer forwards Stanley Umude from the University of South Dakota and Au’ Diese  Toney from the University of Pittsburgh.

It went without saying, though Yurachek certainly said it as Arkansas’ 13-4 SEC runner-up season progressed, that Musselman deserved greater than ranking as the 13th paid head men’s basketball coach in a 14-team league.

Obviously as this season progressed, many of you asked me about Coach Musselman and the re-negotiation of his contract,” Yurachek told media Wednesday in his joint zoom press conference with Musselman. Coach and I communicated, as I indicated, on a regular basis, and thought it was in the best interest of everybody involved if that went on the back burner and we just focused on winning basketball games through the end of the SEC season and then into the NCAA Tournament and that’s exactly what we did.”

Musselman signed a 5-year agreement, with automatic extensions for 2027 and 2028, that pays him a $500,000 base salary and $3.5 million covering speaking engagements, TV and radio shows, sponsorships etc.

“I knew we didn’t have the 49th best coach in the country and I knew we didn’t have the 13th best coach in the Southeastern Conference,” Yurachek said of what Musselman was paid upon being hired away from the University of Nevada in 2019. “So I think as I look through the USA Today research, this puts him in the top 10 (nationally) and the top three or four in the Southeastern Conference. I think he’s where he should be now.”

Musselman said he actually was the one delaying the announcement because he felt the urgency to recruit rather than go through contract details with his agent and Yurachek.

“ I mean, we were so focused on winning games,” Musselman said. “And then even when our season was over, Hunter and I talked and I said, ‘Can we wait a little bit? There’s a portal that we’re trying to work through. Hunter was incredible with his patience and talking to me and talking to my agent and going back and forth. From my perspective and my wife’s perspective, the timing was, on a scale from 1-10, a 10 out of 10 because it allowed us to focus on the season and then it allowed us to focus on the portal. Then, once we thought we had our roster stabilized, an agreement got done.”

Yurachek said they stayed on the same page throughout.

“I trusted him when he told me this was the place he wanted to be,” Yurachek said Wednesday. “Never did I think that Eric Musselman did not want to be the head basketball coach at the University of Arkansas.”

Yurachek explained why.

“I think we’ve got to give our men’s basketball team a little bit of credit,” Yurachek said. “Than to think that all of those schools you mentioned are better basketball jobs than we have here at the University of Arkansas with the fan base that we have, the recruiting base that we have. I wasn’t necessarily worried about many of those jobs to be honest with you, because I think what we have here is really special and I think Coach Musselman realizes that as well.”

Musselman does, the coach said, adding his wife, Danyelle does, too.

“Certainly I think everybody wants to feel appreciated,” Musselman said.  “And I felt much appreciated before this contract got done. My family and I are more than happy and grateful but we did feel that way prior to. Hunter said, this is a great basketball job. My wife’s happy here. We’re happy here and we’re just happy that Hunter believes in us moving forward.”

Noting the financial hardships that the UA has endured since the covid-19 pandemic closed the 2020 spring semester sports from March 20 on and then because of pandemic social distancing drastically reduced football and basketball attendance last fall and winter, Yurachek thanked the Razorback Foundation staff and donors for helping raise the funds for Musselman’s raise.

During the press conference Musselman was asked about reports that 2-year assistant Corey Williams is joining the staff at Texas Tech.

“Not really sure what I can comment other than to say, yes, Corey has spoken to another program, and we anticipate him taking another job,” Musselman  said. “Sometimes new opportunities arise and you look at that as a new challenge, so we would anticipate him taking another job, and we’re going to miss him because he was a big-time part of our family, for sure.”

Musselman said the search for the third full-time assistant to go with associate head coach David Patrick and Clay Moser will include from his administrative staff director of student development Earl Boykins,  director of basketball operations Anthony Ruta, special assistant Hays Myers, and director of recruiting Michael Musselman.

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