On June 30, San Jose State University announced that women’s basketball head coach Jamie Craighead signed a new five-year contract. This replaces Craighead’s previous contract signed in 2013 (obtained via the Albuquerque Journal’s Mountain West Conference contract database) and set to expire after the 2017-18 season. Inside the Spartans obtained a copy of Craighead’s new contract, through a public records request to San Jose State. What are the implications of extending Craighead through the 2020-21 season for the Spartan women’s basketball program?
The athletic department is increasing investment in the program.
Craighead’s annual salary, originally $180,000 when she initially signed in 2013, has increased to around $200,000 in her new contract. This pay increase, combined with the contract extension, signals to boosters that San Jose State is devoting more resources to the women’s basketball program and could encourage greater donations, in a time when San Jose State has many long-overdue facility improvements and is starving for donations.
Craighead’s base pay becomes more competitive with peer Mountain West institutions.
A check of women’s basketball coach base salaries on the previously linked Mountain West contract database shows that Craighead’s previous $180,000 annual pay ranked near the bottom in the Mountain West. Of nine available contracts, four had base salaries of $200,000 or greater: Colorado State, Fresno State, New Mexico, and San Diego State. Generally, these four programs have done well in conference play in recent years and made postseason tournaments.
Last season, San Jose State finished 11-7 in MW play, its best conference record in the MW era. Athletic director Gene Bleymaier commented that Craighead “earned [her] contract extension” because of that record, among other results in her three-year tenure. Unsaid but implied is that Craighead now joins the “200 G’s” club of peer MW coaches whose level of success is now a reachable goal for San Jose State.
In fact, New Mexico coach Mike Bradbury, hired three months ago to replace Yvonne Sanchez, has the highest known base salary among MW women’s basketball coaches, at $250,000 for the coming season and increasing to $275,000 in the 2017-18 season.
Craighead gains leverage in competing for recruits.
Recruiting for any college sport, whether football, women’s basketball, or even cross country is a cutthroat business. Bleymaier has taken away a potential negative recruiting tactic from other coaches, namely pointing out that Craighead has only two years left in her contract. Now, parents of 2017 prospects are reassured that their daughters could be able to play under Craighead for four years.
Because Craighead was hired weeks into the fall 2013 semester, due to the unexpected resignation of the previous coach, only recently has she been able to sign a large class of high school recruits. In the 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes, Craighead signed just three players out of high school: Ali Bettencourt (who has since left the program), Andrea Kohlhaas, and Myzhanique Ladd. Most of Craighead’s signees in those years transferred from other four-year colleges, the lone junior college transfer being Ellie Stevens. In contrast, her 2016 recruiting class has five high school signees. As the program’s recruiting needs increase in the next year, Craighead now has the job security that puts her at an advantage in pitching the program to prospects.
Bleymaier sees enough potential in Craighead to warrant a multi-year extension.
Craighead is the first coach during the Bleymaier administration known to have a multi-year contract extension. San Jose State’s announcement of Craighead’s extension cited multiple examples of success. Academically, her teams have had 27 academic awards from the MW and five Dean’s Scholar or President’s Scholar honors from San Jose State University. Players have also earned eight conference postseason awards, most recently Newcomer of the Year for Dezz Ramos and Sixth Player of the Year for Riana Byrd. Unsaid in the announcement was the Spartans’ upset of #1 seed Colorado State in the 2015 MW Tournament. It remains to be seen if that upset win will have preceded a wave of consistent success for the program.