MANKATO — Minnesota State University announced on Wednesday that it is nobody's stepping stone when it comes to college hockey.
When another university came sniffing around Mavericks coach Mike Hastings to possibly lure him to its hockey program, MSU decided to lock in its coach and offered him a new, long-term contract.
Now, Minnesota State and Hastings are in the process of negotiating a 10-year deal that will take effect on July 1 and keep the coach behind the Mavericks bench through the 2027-28 season.
"The school wanted to talk about the future of the program," Hastings said of Minnesota State's offer. "From Day 1, the commitment level from president (Richard) Davenport and the administration — (vice president for finance and administration) Rick Straka and (director of athletics) Kevin Buisman — has never wavered."
Hastings, 51, has six years remaining on a contract extension agreed upon in 2015 that pays him $290,000 annually. However, five Division I programs have made coaching changes over the last month as the season ended. That includes Nebraska Omaha, where Hastings had been an associate head coach and rumored heir apparent for three years before taking the Minnesota State job in 2012. Hastings also coached the Omaha Lancers junior team for 14 seasons before moving on to college hockey.
Neither Hastings nor Minnesota State officials would confirm that Nebraska Omaha was the school that showed interest in Hastings, but MSU's press release did acknowledge that a school did request permission to speak to Hastings about its opening and that there was also "informal contact" with Hastings last week.
Minnesota State decided to revisit Hastings' contract.
"The confidential inquiry to request permission was certainly a catalyst (to the new contract)," Buisman said. "Mike is a very valuable asset to the the university and Maverick athletics. He's done some outstanding things as head coach."
According to the university's release, the contract is believed to be the longest-term appointment among current NCAA Division I men's hockey coaches.
"Mike Hastings has had a significant positive impact on our hockey program and in the community since his arrival five years ago," Davenport said in the statement. "Offering a 10-year contract sends a clear signal about our commitment to him and will ensure ongoing stability in the leadership and future direction of our program."
Although the contract has not been finalized, Hastings said the announcement indicates he is not interested in furthering any discussions with outside programs. Details still to be hammered out, according to the release, are an increase in compensation and other improvements to the program, including cost-of-attendance aid for players, staffing commitments and enhancements to travel and recruiting budgets.
Buisman said he expects those items to be in place by July 1 and likely sooner. Hastings has signed an agreement in principle, Buisman said.
Hastings said his heart is in Mankato, and stability for his family here is important, especially considering they moved around a bit before arriving. His daughter is a senior at Mankato West and will play softball at Minnesota State next year. His son is a freshman at West.
"When we moved here five years ago, you always hoped things will go well for your family because you never know, especially in the profession of coaching," Hastings said. "The experience we've had the last five years has been as good or even better than we imagined it could be."
Minnesota State is 122-62-16 in Hastings' tenure with two Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season championships, two WCHA tournament titles and three NCAA tournament appearances. The Mavericks went 22-13-4 this past season and took third in the WCHA.
"I'm hoping the university feels this is a good investment in the future of the program," Hastings said. "I know the responsibilities that come with this. That's expected. That's understood."
Minnesota State's full release can be found here.