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Heath gets extension, sees big things for USF

USF men’s basketball coach Stan Heath’s future tenure with the Bulls has received some stability.

After leading the team to its first postseason berth since 2001-02, Heath has been rewarded with a contract extension through 2014-15, the University announced Tuesday, as the USF basketball program tries to continue its ascent in the Big East.

“My family and I are honored and appreciative of USF’s commitment to our basketball program,” Heath said in a statement. “My staff and I look forward to the work ahead in building a championship program. It’s an exciting time to be a USF Bull.”

Heath, whose previous contract ran through Aug. 1, 2012, also received a significant raise after leading the Bulls to their first 20-win season. Heath is now set to receive $900,000 per year, up from $675,000 under his previous contract.

“I am very pleased to extend Stan’s contract,” USF athletic director Doug Woolard said in a statement. “In just three years, he has been able to position our men’s basketball program as a viable competitor within the Big East Conference and nationally. Winning games in the best conference in America is no small feat, and to have us in the postseason in that period of time is one heck of an achievement.”

As part of the new contract, USF assistant coaches’ pay pool increases from $375,000 to $435,000 per year. Further contract stipulations among others include a $25,000 bonus each time Heath leads USF to the NCAA tournament as an at-large selection, $10,000 each time an NIT berth is achieved and $15,000 if Heath is named the conference Coach of the Year.

Under Heath, the Bulls went 20-13 overall with a 9-9 Big East record last season, but lost to NC State at home in the first round of the NIT. The four previous seasons – two of them under Heath – saw USF win just 11 conference games combined. USF joined the Big East beginning in the 2005-06 season.

“I believe he is doing a terrific job of laying the foundation for continued success,” Woolard said of Heath, 45, who also groomed USF’s only first-round draft pick in school history in guard Dominique Jones. “We have every intention of competing at the very highest level in men’s basketball at USF, and Stan is providing the leadership necessary to do that … We have it all in place to win big at USF.”

Heath’s contract extension comes in the midst of the University working on a $33 million upgrade to its athletic district in the next year or so. Along with new baseball and softball stadiums, construction of the Muma Center, a multi-court practice facility for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, is ongoing and should be ready for use by next year.

The center should give USF another piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving in the Big East, Heath said.

“I think it changes our program,” Heath said last month. “Look what Florida did a few years back. They build a practice facility, the next thing you know they have national championships. I think it affects recruiting, and I really believe it helps your team a lot more than people think. We’ve been shooting two baskets for years, and now we’ll have six baskets. I think our shooting will go up, and having access to the gym 24/7 will be a huge plus for our players’ development.”