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UA, Neighbors agree to extension, raise

Mike Neighbors is entering his fifth season as Arkansas' women's basketball coach.
Mike Neighbors is entering his fifth season as Arkansas' women's basketball coach. (Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)

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Mike Neighbors has agreed to an extension that could keep him under contract for the next seven seasons, the UA announced Wednesday.

In the new agreement, the Greenwood native will be paid an annual salary of $600,000 through the 2022-23 season before an increase to $700,000 that kicks in July 1, 2023, according to a copy of the contract obtained by HawgBeat via a Freedom of Information request.

Those figures are a 24.5 and 45.2 percent raise, respectively, from his current salary of $482,000.

The deal is currently set to expire after the 2025-26 season, but it includes a pair of automatic one-year extensions for up to two NCAA Tournament appearances that could keep him under contract through April 30, 2028.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue living my dream as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Arkansas,” Neighbors said in a statement. “This meaningful investment in the future of our program is an endorsement of the progress we have made and further validation of our success both in the Southeastern Conference and nationally.

“Additionally, it is a credit to all of the student-athletes, coaches, staff members and fans who have played an integral role in that success. I am deeply appreciative of the confidence demonstrated by Hunter Yurachek and our administration in the direction of our program. It is another example of the strong commitment the University of Arkansas has to elevating our program and positioning us to consistently compete among the elite programs in women’s collegiate basketball.”

Neighbors could also receive $50,000 raises for each of Arkansas’ first two NCAA Tournaments after the 2022-23 season. That would put his annual salary at $800,000.

According to previous reporting by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Neighbors’ annual salary was originally set at $600,000, but it was restructured just 18 months later to allow for the UA to pay his buyout to Washington in full.

If he is fired for convenience by the UA, Neighbors is due to receive a buyout equal to 70 percent of his remaining contract. If Neighbors leaves Arkansas before May 1, 2023, he would owe the school $1.2 million. That buyout drops to $700,000 through April 30, 2025, and then to $350,000 through the end of his deal.

Incentives in Neighbors’ deal include $25,000 for being named SEC Coach of the Year and Naismith National Coach of the Year, $50,000 for winning an SEC regular-season title and SEC Tournament title, and non-cumulative amounts for NCAA Tournament success.

Reaching the Round of 32 would earn him $25,000, while making the Sweet 16 would increase that to $75,000. That would be doubled to $150,000 for appearing in the Final Four and then double again to $300,000 for winning the national championship.

The extension and raise comes after Neighbors guided the Razorbacks to signature wins over Baylor and UConn and their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015. They earned a 4 seed, their highest since 1991, but were upset by Wright State in the first round.

Arkansas likely would have ended its postseason drought a year earlier, but the coronavirus pandemic led to the cancelation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament.

Despite inheriting a program that was a combined 25-35 overall and 9-23 in SEC play in the two years prior to his arrival, Neighbors has a 78-50 record that includes a 28-35 mark in conference play over his first four seasons with the Razorbacks.

“What Coach Neighbors has done in his first four seasons as the head coach of our women’s basketball program has been extraordinary,” athletics director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “He has guided our team to success in the Southeastern Conference and nationally, while transforming Razorback Women’s Basketball into one of the most dynamic and exciting college basketball programs in the nation.

“With his up-tempo style of play, infectious enthusiasm and enduring commitment to Arkansas, Coach Neighbors has captured the attention of fans throughout our state and attracted some of the nation’s very best players to the University of Arkansas. I am excited for the future of our women’s basketball program under Coach Neighbors’ leadership.”