Kyle Smith and the Washington State Cougars have agreed to a 6-year contract at a $1.4 million annual salary for Smith to become the school’s newest head basketball coach. The news was first reported by Theo Lawson, WSU beat writer for the Spokesman-Review. No details yet on whether the salary is fully guaranteed.
Smith comes to WSU from the University of San Francisco, where he coached for three seasons. He signed a multi-year extension last summer with the Dons. The school is private, so financial terms were not disclosed. There is no doubt a buyout involved that WSU will be paying to USF to bring Smith to Pullman.
The reported $1.4 million annual salary in Smith’s WSU contract would tie him for the highest paid coach in WSU basketball history. Ernie Kent garnered the same number annually in a five-year rollover deal that ended up being an 8-year contract overall.
Previously, Ken Bone topped out at $850,000 per season in a 7-year agreement. Before that, Tony Bennett was the first WSU coach in any sport to reach a $1 million salary in his final year with the Cougs.
On a Pac-12 level, Smith’s salary would have put him ninth out of ten among coaches at public universities in 2018-2019. It’s likely that USC and Stanford are paying their head basketball coaches more than that as well.
WSU athletic director Pat Chun is also seeking an extra $500,000 from the university Regents to hire a new basketball coach, perhaps to pay for Smith’s new coaching staff.