MANKATO — Minnesota State didn’t just make a long-term commitment to Mike Hastings when it offered him a new, 10-year contract as men’s hockey coach last spring. The university also made a long-term commitment to the sport.
When another college started looking into the possibility of poaching Hastings from the Mavericks following last season, MSU officials went to their coach to up the ante, even though the coach was just two years into an eight-year contract.
“I didn’t give them a laundry list,” Hastings, 51, said. “They came to me and said, ‘Can we sit down and talk?’ … If there’s one thing I can say, it’s that the commitment to communication here has been evident since Day 1. To me, in any relationship, that’s incredibly important to be successful.”
Not only did university officials offer to tear up Hastings’ deal for an unprecedented, decade-long contract that included a healthy raise, they made promises in writing about improving resources available to the program to help ensure success.
“Part of my philosophy is: If you put a team out in a competitive field, it needs to be competitive and it needs the tools to be successful and win,” university president Richard Davenport said.
The new contract, which The Free Press received in a request for public information made under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, went into effect on July 1 and runs through the 2026-27 season. Hastings' annual salary in the new deal is $335,887.39, and that could reach a maximum of $350,000.
In an addendum to the contract, Minnesota State devoted $115,500 in enhancements and improvements to the hockey program, including NCAA-allowed cost-of-attendance stipends for players, expanded recruiting and travel budgets and raises for assistant coaches.
“We wanted to be very transparent about our goals moving forward,” said Rick Straka, the university’s vice president of finance and administration.
Those enhancements break down this way:
■ $40,500 in cost-of-attendance stipends for players. Davenport said that funding has been raised, and the program will be managed by Hastings, who hopes to have it in place “very soon.”
■ $25,000 in enhanced salary for assistant coaches Darren Blue and Todd Knott. That, too, is done, according to Straka, and with the adjustments, the two assistants now each have a salary of $123,500. “The people around me are incredibly important and valuable to the success of the program,” Hastings said.
■ $40,000 to enhance the team travel budget, including charters when necessary, and $10,000 to enhance the recruiting budget. Those increases will be phased in over time through additional fundraising.
"(Hastings) has done a tremendous job raising external funds," Davenport said. "He's been very successful in that way."
The addendum also says that the university will explore enhancing other positions connected to the hockey program, including director of hockey operations, assistant director of student-athlete health care and director of strength and conditioning.
Being mindful of gender equity and Title IX, Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman said some of those enhancements, including cost of attendance, will impact the women's hockey program as well.
According to the contract, which falls under the Inter Faculty Organization (IFO) collective bargaining agreement with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees, Hastings' contract breaks down this way:
■ The base salary is $138,962, which covers 168 duty days in Minnesota State’s academic year.
■ An additional 93 duty days in the summer sessions, pro-rated from his base salary, pays him $76,925.39.
■ Supplemental pay of $120,000 covers additional duty days and responsibilities, including professional development, recruiting, public relations, fundraising, camps and “any other efforts deemed necessary … to best ensure the ultimate success of the program.”
“The directive is: They have lofty goals for the program — the university does,” Hastings said. “I take that very seriously, and it’s a responsibility I understand.”
Special conditions to the contract stipulate that Minnesota State will seek ways to provide incentive bonuses currently not available in the IFO agreement but common in coaching contracts outside the Minnesota State system. They also state that the contract will be renegotiated if the Mavericks move to a different conference. A year ago, Minnesota State applied to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, but the league opted against expanding at that time.
In five-plus seasons with the Mavericks, Hastings’ record is 122-63-18 (88-36-16 in WCHA play). In that time, the Mavericks have won two WCHA regular-season championships, two WCHA playoff titles and have gone to three NCAA tournaments. Hastings won the Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year in 2015 after the Mavericks went 29-8-3 and entered the national tournament ranked first in the nation.
“We think he’s the best coach in the country,” Davenport said. “He’s really done a lot for this program and this community. He is our guy.”