The ink has been dry for quite a while on Yvonne Sanchez’s new UNM women’s basketball coaching contract.
Sanchez and University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs signed off on a four-year deal in April, one that could keep Sanchez on the Lobo sideline until April 30, 2019.
But it also took quite a while for Sanchez to acquire an official copy of the contract, which was only recently approved and released by UNM president Robert Frank’s office.
Most terms of Sanchez’s new contract are similar or identical to those in the first four-year deal she signed at UNM in 2011, when she took over from predecessor and mentor Don Flanagan. Sanchez’s base annual salary of $266,640 and the $36,000 she receives for working with the media remain the same.
There are some differences, however.
UNM changed the buyout terms for early termination. It increased the amount that Sanchez would be paid should she be fired for reasons other than specific cause to $150,000 during the second and third years of her contract. The buyout amount was $100,000 during the final two years of Sanchez’s previous deal.
But there is no buyout or “severance payment” in the fourth contract year, which effectively means that year is not guaranteed.
Sanchez, who does not retain an agent, said Tuesday she is not particularly worried about the buyout terms.
“The way I see it both sides signed a four-year contract,” she said. “They’ll hold me to it and I expect to hold them to it.
“I’m not naive. I know I can be fired if we don’t win. But I can also go back and negotiate for an extension if we do well. Other people have done it.”
The new contract also reduces and/or eliminates some incentives included in Sanchez’s previous deal. A Mountain West championship, for example, could now earn Sanchez $5,000 or $10,000 instead of the $22,200 it could have brought in previous years.
Sanchez said Tuesday she is not concerned about the decreased incentives.
“Our goals are about winning every year,” she said, “not trying to get extra money. It’s nice there are incentives, and I hope we reach them because that means we had a great year. But I honestly didn’t even know what some of the old incentives were, and I never worried about them. I just want to coach here. That’s my incentive.”
UNM has gone 60-66 under Sanchez but appeared to turn a corner last season. After a 1-7 start the Lobos went 20-6 in the balance of their schedule, finished second in the Mountain West standings and reached the MWC tournament final before falling to Boise State.
New Mexico has four starters returning and is bringing in the Mountain West’s top-rated recruiting class for next season.
Sanchez, who appeared on thin ice before her team’s impressive turnaround in 2014-15, said she agreed in principle to a new contract during a late-March meeting with Krebs and associate athletic director Janice Ruggiero. Krebs declined to give specifics on the contract’s length at the time, saying only that a four-year deal had been discussed but not finalized.
Under terms of the new contract Sanchez could still earn sizable incentives if the Lobos win a conference championship and make a deep NCAA Tournament run. Incentives for appearances in the Sweet 16 ($10,000), Elite 8 ($15,000) and Final Four ($30,000) remain unchanged.
However, Sanchez’s first contract offered one month’s salary ($22,220) as an incentive for Mountain West regular-season or tournament championships. Her current contract offers $5,000 for a regular-season title and $10,000 for an MWC tournament championship.
In addition, previous incentives ($1,000 to $4,000) based on her team’s final RPI ranking, average home attendance figures and for having a top-five nationally ranked recruiting class were removed from the new contract.
“Incentives are basically just bonuses,” Sanchez said, “and you can’t count on them. I like where our program is now and I feel like good things are going to happen if we all do our jobs. Then none of the incentives or buyouts are going to matter.”
Sanchez would owe UNM a $100,000 buyout if she terminates the contract prior to its conclusion, the same amount that was included in her first deal.