Kansas State and Jerome Tang agreed to a new seven-year contract Monday after the men's basketball coach took a program that had just two returning players and was picked last in the Big 12 to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament last season.
The contract replaces the six-year deal that Tang signed last year, when the longtime Baylor assistant was picked to replace the fired Bruce Weber in Manhattan. Tang will be paid $3 million for the upcoming season with $100,000 raises each year, finishing with $3.6 million for the 2029-30 season. He also will earn $200,000 retention bonuses after the next four seasons.
“What Coach Tang and his staff did in their first year here was phenomenal,” said Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor, who was responsible for hiring him. “The run to the Elite Eight was remarkable, but what separates Coach Tang is his pure love of his players and the relationships he builds with everyone that he encounters.”
Tang, who was the ceremonial drum leader for Sunday's game between the Chiefs and Bears at Arrowhead Stadium, has quickly become one of the most popular basketball coaches in Kansas State history. He can often be found around campus, chatting up students going about their daily lives between classes, and is a frequent fan at other sports events.
Yet it was Tang's immediate success on the hardwood that won over the Kansas State fanbase.
Tirelessly working the recruiting trail and transfer market, Tang pulled together a team that barely resonated nationally before last season. But the Wildcats wound up tying for third in the brutal Big 12, winning 26 games along the way, and advanced to the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost a nip-and-tuck game against FAU for a spot in the Final Four.
The only other first-time coaches to lead their programs that far in the NCAA Tournament were Bill Guthridge at North Carolina in 1998, Stan Heath with Kent State in 2002 and Hubert Davis with the Tar Heels last year.
Tang was voted the AP Big 12 coach of the Year and finished second to Marquette's Shaka Smart for national coach of the year.
“I say it all the time and I truly mean it, we're fortunate every day to be at such a special place,” Tang said. “I said before I didn't come here to rebuild but to elevate and the work has already begun. Last year's success was just the start.”
It won't be easy to replicate. The Wildcats lost their two biggest stars, Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson, to the NBA along with role players such as Desi Sills, Tykei Greene and Ismael Massoud to graduation or transfer.
They bring back returning starters Nae'Qwan Tomlin, Cam Carter and David N'Guessan, though, and Tang has replenished with a pair of high-profile transfers in Tylor Perry from North Texas and Arthur Kaluma from Creighton. Four-star recruits Dai Dai Ames, Macaleab Rich and R.J. Jones also could make an immediate impact this season.
Kansas State begins the upcoming season against USC in the Hall of Fame Series on Nov. 6 in Las Vegas.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll