NC State’s Keatts: ‘Out of all of the 68 teams that made the field, I want us to have the most fun’
N.C. State is working on a new contract for basketball coach Kevin Keatts.
The deal will likely include a raise for Keatts, who led the Wolfpack to 21 wins and the NCAA tournament in his first season in 2017-18, and an extra year. N.C. State has already reworked the contracts for Keatts’ assistants James Johnson and Takayo Siddle.
Keatts, 46, had an automatic rollover in his original contract, signed in 2017, for a $100,000 raise and a one-year extension. His current deal is worth about $2.3 million annually and runs through the 2023-24 season. A seventh year is a possibility for the new deal.
“We value coach Keatts and his contributions,” associate athletic director Fred Demarest said in a statement released by the school. “We are working on a new agreement to ensure his long-term leadership of N.C. State.”
Keatts was hired from UNC-Wilmington to replace Mark Gottfried after the 2016-17 season. The end of Gottfried’s tenure was marked by two straight losing ACC seasons and subsequently has landed the Wolfpack program in the middle of an FBI investigation for the recruitment of former star guard Dennis Smith Jr.
According to FBI documents, an N.C. State coach was involved in the payment of $40,000 to Smith’s father to secure Smith’s commitment. The school received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York in January for the problems with Smith and its role in the FBI investigation into college basketball recruiting.
The new deal would be extra security for Keatts, who wasn’t involved in any of the previous problems, in case there are any NCAA issues down the road. A longer deal also gives Keatts more leeway with the next athletic director. N.C. State AD Debbie Yow is set to retire when her current contract ends in June 2019.
For N.C. State, a new deal would front-load Keatts’ buyout, which would add financial protection in case Keatts decides to leave.
Keatts led the Wolfpack to an 11-7 ACC mark in his first season with marquee wins over North Carolina, Duke and Arizona. N.C. State finished tied for third in the conference and as the No. 5 seed in the ACC tournament.
The Wolfpack received a No. 9 seed in the NCAA tournament, which earned Keatts’ a $25,000 bonus and an automatic extension, but it lost its first-round game to Seton Hall.
Johnson, Keatts’ top assistant and former Virginia Tech coach, signed a new two-year deal in July worth $407,423 annually. Siddle, who was an assistant for Keatts at UNCW, signed a two-year deal worth $314,970 annually. They previously had been on one-year deals.
Roy Roberson, who was hired to replace assistant coach A.W. Hamilton, signed a two-year deal worth $284,500. Hamilton left after the 2017-18 season to become the head coach at Eastern Kentucky.
Keatts’ new contract could be approved as early as the university’s board of trustees meeting in September. Yow is also working on a contract extension for longtime baseball coach Elliott Avent, who only has one year left on his current deal.
The board is scheduled to meet on Sept. 21 and then again on Nov. 16.
Yow reworked football coach Dave Doeren’s contract after the 2017 season. If the deals for Keatts and Avent go through, she’ll leave all three major sports set up for her successor next summer.