GRAND FORKS-When UND announced a contract extension for head men's basketball coach Brian Jones last week, a raise for the assistant salary pool was a minor footnote.
Coaches and administrators, however, know the importance of beginning to bump assistant pay closer to a competitive level.
"The proof is in the pudding," Jones said, after signing a four-year extension worth $140,000 annually. "I have had great assistant coaches, but it has been a stepping stone for young coaches.
"Our ability to hold onto a staff ... that's what we've never had ... hopefully this is the first year we've been able to do that. That bump in pay for them is big."
During Jones' previous contract, his assistant salary pool was $136,269. In his new deal, that total has climbed to $160,000. That's a raise of $23,731.
UND's current staff includes assistants Jeff Horner (three seasons at UND), Brad Davidson (one season at UND) and Steve Grabowski (five seasons at UND). The Director of Basketball Operations is Craig Heatherly (two seasons at UND).
Since Jones' first staff in the 2006-07 season, Jones has lost at least one assistant each offseason.
In the 2008 offseason, UND lost Chris Johnson, followed by Daryle Tucker (2009), Jimmie Foster (2010), Ryan Moody (2011), Bryan Martin and Tom Dryburgh (2012), Brent Wilson (2013), Gameli Ahelegbe and Dean Oliver (2014), Jason Shay (2015) and Shawn Dirden (2016).
"I feel whether it's athletics or any other business, you have to have retention in order to have that consistent success you're shooting for," Jones said. "We still have a ways to go in those areas. but at least we have a plan going forward the next couple of years, as we build to retain those quality assistants. It's not just my sport, it's across the board. We have a plan going forward. We've had good, quality young assistants, and we have to be able to retain them."
UND athletic director Brian Faison said he recognizes that Jones has been able to surround himself with good assistants.
"He's put together a great staff and that's not easy to do here sometimes," Faison said. "That has been a big plus. You want to keep that leadership and continuity."