Missouri State Extends Contracts for Lusk, Harper
Paul Lusk and Kellie Harper
Paul Lusk and Kellie Harper

April 4, 2014

SPRINGFIELD -- To help solidify the basketball coaching staffs for the future, Missouri State University has extended the contracts of men's head coach Paul Lusk and women’s head coach Kellie Harper while boosting the salaries of the assistant coaches.

"We are extremely pleased with the progress we have made this year with both teams," said Missouri State Director of Athletics Kyle Moats.  “Despite a season of adversity and injuries, Coach Lusk led us to 20 wins and a postseason appearance, and we’re strongly encouraged by what the future holds.

“On the women’s side, Coach Harper over-achieved with this team, and the progress she made in every area was evident. Our efforts to re-establish MSU as the preeminent team in the Missouri Valley Conference are on track, and our recruiting is going to be significantly improved.”

University President Clifton M. Smart III also supported the actions, which must be formally approved by the Board of Governors.

“We could not be more pleased with the two basketball programs, both on the court and off,” said Smart.  “Of course our goal is to be in the NCAA Tournament year in and year out.  But Coach Lusk and Coach Harper are building the foundation that will allow that to occur as we go forward.  I believe our basketball future is bright.”



Lusk's guaranteed five-year contract extension will run through March 31, 2019.  Under the terms of the extension, his base salary will be increased $50,000 annually to $305,333, making the estimated economic value of his annual compensation package around $450,000. The increase will be paid from private funds. Lusk’s compensation package also includes income from television and radio shows and promotional compensation provided by the University from funds received from the Missouri State Foundation.  Lusk also is eligible for achievement payments based on team performance.

A pool of $20,000 will also be provided to increase the base pay of assistant coaches Jermaine Henderson, Derrick Tilmon and Brad Korn, as determined by Lusk. The additional pool was also made possible by private donations.

A native of New Baden, Ill., Lusk helped the Bears manufacture one of the best turnarounds in the Division I ranks this season as the Bears jumped from last year’s 11-22 ledger to a 20-13 mark in 2013-14. MSU tied for fourth in a competitive Missouri Valley Conference race and earned a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. Lusk originally signed a five-year contract with Missouri State -- through the 2015-16 season -- when he officially became the program's 17th head coach on April 1, 2011.

“I want to thank President Smart and our Athletic Director Kyle Moats as well as the many supporters who made this possible,” Lusk said. “Our goal is to compete for championships and develop young men on and off the floor.  This extension will aid us in that process.  I’m excited about the future of Missouri State basketball.”

Harper’s guaranteed five-year contract takes her current agreement through April 14, 2019. Her base salary will be increased by $15,000 to $160,000 annually. The increase will be funded by an allocation of University funds. The estimated economic value of her total compensation package, including television and radio shows, Missouri State Foundation funds and promotions is around $225,000.

Similar to the increase on the men’s side, a pool of $20,000 to increase the base pay of assistant coaches Jennifer Sullivan, Jon Harper and Jackie Stiles is also part of the proposal.  The pool will be funded through an allocation of University funds. Senior Woman Administrator Casey Hunt will determine what portion of the pool monies will be used to compensate increases for assistant Jon Harper, while Kellie Harper will determine the increases for Sullivan and Stiles.

The Sparta, Tenn., native recently finished her first season at the helm of the Lady Bears. The 2013-14 campaign resulted in 14 wins, including an 11-4 stretch from Dec. 6 to Feb. 14 that started with a victory over Missouri. Injuries to key players stunted the team’s potential down the stretch, but Harper’s leadership and program identity were evident in her Springfield debut.

“I love coaching at Missouri State and am thrilled with the support our administration shows the women’s basketball program,” Harper said. “President Smart and Kyle Moats share my vision for the future of the Lady Bears, and that’s very exciting.”

The basketball coaching contract changes are subject to final approval by the Missouri State University Board of Governors at its executive committee meeting on April 16. The Board's annual evaluation of salaries and benefits for athletics coaches and staff is held in executive session. The Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law (known as the Sunshine Law), provides public governmental bodies 72 hours in which to announce personnel decisions taken in executive session.



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