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UND hockey coach Brad Berry inks new five-year contract

Head coach Brad Berry shows off the NCAA championship trophy to fans after landing back in Grand Forks in 2016. Jesse Trelstad / Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS -- Bill Chaves knew one of his first priorities as the University of North Dakota athletic director would be to sign head men’s hockey coach Brad Berry to a new contract.

With only one year remaining on Berry’s contract, Chaves began studying the contracts of other college hockey coaches.

He found that, among the 60 head coaches at the Division I level, Berry’s contract value ranked in the second quartile -- somewhere between 15th and 30th.

Chaves wanted to change that.

On Friday morning, Berry signed a five-year contract extension that will begin this summer and go through the 2022-23 season.

His base salary will start at $400,000 this season with an annual 3 percent increase. It will be up to $450,000 in his final year.

His contract also is filled with performance bonuses for everything from hosting a first-round National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoff series to reaching the NCAA tournament to winning playoff games to player performances in the classroom.

Berry’s bonuses cap at 45 percent of his base salary. If he were to hit enough of them -- the largest is a 20 percent bonus for an NCAA national title -- he could make an additional $180,000.

“Prior to this contract extension, Brad was in the second quartile of coaches from a dollars and cents standpoint,” said Chaves, who started at UND on March 1. “Now, he’ll be in the first quartile. And I think that’s where UND hockey is and should be.

“We’re excited given what he’s been able to do in his years as head coach here. It’s very well deserving moving forward.”

Berry is getting a big raise from his last contract, which scheduled to pay him $306,000 in base salary this season with the same bonus structure.

It’s behind the contract of new Minnesota coach Bob Motzko, who will be paid $525,000 in base salary this season and $654,075 by Year 5 of his deal. Financial details of new St. Cloud State coach Brett Larson’s contract, signed last month, were not immediately available.

“This was one of the first things I wanted to make sure that we were looking at as we came in here administratively, knowing that coach Berry was going to be going into his last year of his contract,” Chaves said. “It was incredibly important that we solidify and stabilize this program so that we can go forward and make sure we can build on what this coaching staff has already been able to do and what we’re hoping we can do in the next three, four, five years.”

Berry took over as head coach in the summer of 2015 after Dave Hakstol left to be the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers.

In his first season as coach, Berry led UND to its eighth NCAA national championship. He was named the NCHC’s Herb Brooks Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year.

During his three seasons, he’s already sent nine of his players to the NHL -- a development that had an impact on last year’s UND squad, which failed to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002.

During Berry’s three seasons, UND is 72-35-17 (.649).

“I’m excited and very grateful and honored to continue to be the head coach at North Dakota,” said Berry, who specifically thanked Chaves, UND President Mark Kennedy, Kris Engelstad McGarry and the Engelstad family. “It’s a very special place for myself. I came down here in 1983 as a player. To continue the path on as a coach, I’m very humbled and honored.”

Although Chaves is new to Grand Forks, it didn’t take him long to determine that Berry was the right guy to lead the program long into the future.

“Sometimes, you look back and look historically,” Chaves said. “There aren’t many coaches of the 60 in the country that have won a national title. You start with that. That was exciting for me coming in.

“I wanted to make sure we had a connection. I think from the moment I got here, I felt like we were going to be a great partnership, if you will. That’s what it is, a partnership. We hit it off right away and I’m just excited we were able to get this done.”

Berry’s contract contains penalties if he leaves for another college program or to be an NHL head coach. Berry does have previous NHL experience as an assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

If Berry leaves during the first year of his contract, he would have to pay the school $100,000. That number decreases by $20,000 each year.

His contract also is designed to retain his assistant coaches. It allocates a money pool for them. Associate head coach Dane Jackson and assistant coach Matt Shaw have passed on NHL opportunities in the last three years to stay at UND.

“That’s one thing I wanted to make sure of,” Berry said. “We want to keep our coaches.”

And Chaves wanted to make sure UND kept Berry.

“Brad, having been a player here, an assistant here, an NHL player, he has a world of experience for our student-athletes,” Chaves said. “And beyond that, he’s a good man.”

Brad Elliott Schlossman

Schlossman is in his 13th year covering college hockey for the Herald. In 2016 and 2018, he was named the top beat writer in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors. He also was the NCHC's inaugural Media Excellence Award winner in 2018. Schlossman has voted in the national college hockey poll since 2007 and has served as a member of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Award committees.

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