Mark Schmidt
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Bonnies shouldn’t break bank to keep Schmidt

By Vinny Pezzimenti

Mark Schmidt is a very good basketball coach and St. Bonaventure is lucky to have him. He led the Bonnies from the depths of the post scandal years, guided them to an Atlantic 10 title, and had them on the doorstep of an NCAA tournament berth this season – all while working within the limitations of the smallest budget in the conference.

Along the way, he has been paid fairly well. Schmidt has been said to make upwards of $650,000 a year. If true, that kind of money goes a long way in Olean, N.Y. – even if it isn’t a lot for a successful coach in a conference like the Atlantic 10.

As you’ve probably noticed, other schools have taken note of Schmidt’s success with the Bonnies. Central Florida interviewed him for its job before hiring Johnny Dawkins. Tha A-10 Coach of the Year has also been rumored as a candidate for the Pitt job, and for the Cincinnati position if it opens.

Those schools can give Schmidt more money, more resources to maintain a winner, and many more opportunities to make and advance in the NCAA tournament. No amount of money SBU can offer will keep Schmidt from leaving for Pitt or Cincinnati – two cities for which he has strong ties. He will go if the situation is right.

“Money is not everything,” Schmidt told the Buffalo News earlier this month. “At the same time, everybody wants to feel like they’re appreciated. Bonaventure has done that, to a point. I’m not looking to go anywhere, per se.”

Tim Kenney, as reported by The Intrepid, is working to keep Schmidt and his family happy at St. Bonaventure. That presumably means more money and perks.

But is money really the motivation? If Schmidt is indeed living on $650,000 annually in Olean, a cost of living calculator will tell you that compensation is comprable to earning more than a million dollars in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Boston, and close to a million in Philadelphia. That would put Schmidt on par with others in the A-10 (Dayton’s Archie Miller made $652K and Davidson’s Bob McKillop $381K during the 2014-15 season, according to this USA Today database.)

The university obviously wants to retain Schmidt, but St. Bonaventure can only pay its most high profile employee so much. When Schmidt was given a deal worth more than $300,000 a year in 2007, it concerned more than a few faculty members. He made $328K in 2012 when the Bonnies won the Atlantic 10. He has been awarded two raises and extensions since.

This may not be a popular sentiment, but St. Bonaventure should not break the bank to keep Schmidt. It’s not worth it, especially as the university faces shrinking enrollment figures and money concerns. Many of the school’s athletics programs – the men’s and women’s basketball teams notably – annually disprove the notion that more spending equals more victories.

The Bonnies should have another strong season next year. More success will only ratchet up interest in Schmidt. If he isn’t content with his salary or available resources at SBU, it is on Kenney to find the next Schmidt at a reduced rate.

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.


  1. Jonathan May Post author

    Blog on Blog crime.

    In today’s world, people associate colleges with sports, not renowned faculty. Schmidt is the most powerful asset the university has to offer as atheltics is truly the only way SBU gains notoriety in a national level. Basketball is our front door like football is to the University at Buffalo. Kidding that’s a joke up there. But say, football is to Alabama.

    With that being said, Schmidt has taken a program and made them relevant in one of the top mid major leagues in the country. Losing him means losing that opportunity to market the school nationally. Goodbye NBCsportsnetwork and hello SBUtv.

    The comparisons to salaries in other cities is spot on, but you’re also talking about a guy in one of the most competitive fields of employment. Losing isn’t an option at any turn. To be known as the lowest paid coach in the league, on an ego level has to rub you the wrong way. Seeing peers who have zero success in the league take in more has to make you question if the grass is greener elsewhere.

    But all in all, you’re right in saying the school shouldn’t break the bank in the wrong way. Maybe Schmidt gets a bump but the school pumps in more money to recruit, upgrades his travel budget to recruit and makes his job easier while on campus. The school can complain all they want and so can other coaches. Aside from Crowley and maybe Sudbrook/Treehouse nobody else on campus has had success to make SBU marketable to student athletes across the country. Schmidt means a ton to this university and losing him over 100k would be a mistake that can cause ripples throughout the university for years to come.

  2. Josh

    I have to wonder about the accuracy of the $600,000+ number.

    It would seem that one of these statements is false: Schmidt makes as much as Archie Miller. Schmidt is in the lower tier of A10 coaches pay.

    • Vinny Pezzimenti Post author

      Agree. I would think the number is more in the $400K-$500K range — though I’m sure Schmidt makes some decent money from his summer camps and shoe deal. Also not sure what kind of bonuses Schmidt may have in his contract. I would think he gets something extra for winning in the conference and being A-10 COY.

    • Vinny Pezzimenti Post author

      I would also add that Archie is young, still just starting out, and that the cost of living in Dayton is somewhat similar to Olean. So he’s certainly not the highest or close to the highest paid coach in the A-10. Probably average.

  3. Vince Murphy

    I’m a 68-year-old who cheered on the Stith brothers at the Armory. I am so proud of the sustained level of performance Mark Schmidt has brought back to SBU. We will never get to to the rarified air of UNC, Duke, Kansas, et al, but it’s nice to know teams in the first tier can’t afford to look past us.