During his introductory press conference after he was hired in March 2017, coach Mike Rhoades expressed that VCU is home.
A reaffirmation of that came on Friday evening, when VCU announced a two-year contract extension for Rhoades. The Mahanoy City, Pa., native signed a six-year deal in 2017, and his contract now runs into 2025.
It’s a commitment that’s important to Rhoades.
“The most important thing to me — and everybody knows this — that I can tell my players we’re committed to this in recruiting. We’re committed to this, to VCU,” Rhoades said Saturday. “And I can tell my own kids that, ‘Hey, this is where we’re going to be.’
“We love this place, we love Richmond, we love VCU. And just excited to know that other people feel the same way.”
Before three seasons as the coach at Rice (2014-17), Rhoades spent five seasons on Shaka Smart’s staff at VCU (2009-14). He helped take the Rams to the Final Four in 2011.
Rhoades coached 13 additional years in the Richmond area prior to that, at Randolph-Macon. He became an assistant for Hal Nunnally in 1996, and became head coach in 1999, a position he held until 2009.
This past season, his second as VCU’s head coach, Rhoades led the Rams to their first outright regular-season Atlantic 10 title. Pesky and persistent play on the defensive end helped push VCU to a seven-win improvement over 2017-18, and helped the team finish in the top-10 nationally in three defensive categories — 3-point field goal percentage defense (second, 28.5), overall field goal percentage defense (sixth, 38.7) and scoring defense (10th, 61.9).
A 12-game win streak in league play lifted VCU to the regular-season title. It fell to Rhode Island in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament, but nabbed an at-large bid and No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Rams fell to UCF in the first round. They finished 25-8.
After the season, Rhoades and VCU vice president and director of athletics Ed McLaughlin, spoke. Then the extension was in the works from there.
Rhoades’ total yearly compensation under his original contract was $1.2 million per year. Under the new deal, his total compensation is $1.5 million for 2019, $1.6 million for 2020 and $1.7 million for 2021.
The revised agreement also features an extra $50,000 for assistant coach salaries. That’s another facet that was important to Rhoades.
“To me that’s everything,” Rhoades said. “They know how much I appreciate them and how much our players appreciate our staff. But it’s another way to show that, and to show the commitment … to having the best assistants out there.
“And I think we have a great staff. They really fit each other and fit what we’re doing.”
Rhoades anticipates that his entire assistant coaching staff — Jamal Brunt, J.D. Byers and Brent Scott — will return next season.
“They will definitely be back and be ready to go,” he said.
The revised contract also includes program enhancements, for things like recruiting and travel.
This weekend, Rhoades is on the road recruiting during the first live AAU evaluation period of the offseason.
His reaffirmation is in place, and it’s full speed ahead.
“That was the whole part of it for me, was that,” Rhoades said. “To not just say it and talk about it, but VCU is committed to moving forward together, and it’s just awesome.”