Theus will become highest-paid coach in WAC

Updated: May 10, 2007, 10:00 PM ET
Associated Press

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- New Mexico State announced Thursday that it reached a new contract with Reggie Theus that will make him the highest-paid men's basketball coach in the Western Athletic Conference.

Theus has rejuvenated the Aggies program in a short time. He was hired after NMSU finished 6-24 in 2004-05 and has led the school to back-to-back winning records. The Aggies finished 25-9 last season, won the WAC tournament and played in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999.

"We've talked about excellence across the board in our athletic department and coach Theus had done a great job," athletics director McKinley Boston said. "Our goal is to have him be a member of the Aggie family for a long time."

It was announced last week that Theus was on the short list of candidates for the head coaching job of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. But Boston said that interest wasn't talked about when the school decided to restructure the former NBA player's contract.

"We were talking about making an investment in a coach that we felt was the right fit for our program, university and our community," he said.

Theus said Thursday he was flattered about the interest in him, but he's happy to be at New Mexico State.

"I told you guys when I got here that we were going to do this thing, and not because I was a great coach, but because we are a community that could put it together," he told reporters at a news conference.

He added: "I wouldn't tell NBA teams to go away if they called. I would listen and talk to all of them because I think I owe them that respect."

The new contract provides a financial package worth $466,000 per season and includes bonus opportunities. It also provides a continuation of the five-year roll over term and a buyout clause of two times Theus' base salary if he leaves for another position in the next two years.

Theus was paid $355,000 last season, including $275,000 in base pay and $80,000 in bonuses.

The bonuses were designed to reward Theus when the program reached set goals, such as winning 20 games, winning the WAC and reducing the number of academically at-risk student-athletes in the program.

Boston said the board of regents, the university president and the community believe the program is in good hands with Theus.

"The road map for success is there, the quality of the student-athletes is there and with the recruits we have coming in, it will position us to be competitive for a long time," he said.

The Aggies will return four of five starters and have signed six for next season, including prep star Herb Pope, who averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds as a senior.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press