UMD coaches cash in on successUMD volleyball coach Jim Boos received a $17,000 raise this year, bringing his annual base salary up to $68,000. Women's hockey coach Shannon Miller is the highest paid coach at UMD.
By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune
Jim Boos took over a quality Minnesota Duluth volleyball program in 2002 and quickly lifted it to national prominence, going 29-3 in his first season while earning its first No. 1 ranking.
While the Bulldogs have remained a national contender, Boos’ salary hasn’t matched the program’s meteoric rise. That is, until now.
Boos entertained a job offer from St. Cloud State in the offseason but ultimately decided to stay at UMD, where he received a $17,000 raise this year, bringing his annual base salary up to $68,000.
Boos, one of three coaching candidates who had on-campus interviews at St. Cloud, said his interest in the Huskies’ opening wasn’t just about leveraging UMD for more money.
“From the outside, that does sound like something that would make the most sense, but I think most people who know me personally know that’s just not my style,” said Boos, 38. “My intent going in wasn’t to strengthen my position here but to take a legitimate look at the job opening, but in the end, staying here was in the best interest for me, my family and the program. UMD did a nice job of giving me reasons to stay.”
That’s because the Bulldogs enjoy having him. UMD is 231-42 under Boos, good for an incredible .846 winning percentage. The Bulldogs have made two NCAA Elite Eight appearances in the last six years and this season have tied the best start in school history
Boos’ new salary puts him in the middle of the pack of coaching salaries at UMD, with women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller ($180,000) and men’s hockey coach Scott Sandelin ($160,000) leading the way, followed by athletic director/football coach Bob Nielson (the base salaries don’t include financial incentives for winning titles, or money coaches can make from instructional camps).
The salary increase also puts Boos on par with other top-level coaches throughout the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Former College of St. Benedict coach Michelle Blaeser got the St. Cloud coaching position, which has an annual base salary of $80,225. Dennis Amundson, coach at Minnesota State-Mankato, a school similar in size to UMD, makes $63,310.
“We certainly solidified our commitment to Jim,” Nielson said. “In situations like this we try to make sure our salaries are competitive with the market. I think it was more than just money in Jim’s case. I think it was trying to decide between the challenge of going someplace else and building a program as opposed to maintaining a high-level program here. We’re certainly glad he stayed.
“Sometimes you take for granted how much work it is to maintain a high-level program year in and year out. It doesn’t just happen by chance. It’s a tribute to Jim and everyone involved with that program that they’ve been so good for so long.”
Boos said he was attracted by St. Cloud’s location, size and facilities. With an enrollment of 17,686, it is one of the largest schools in NCAA Division II. Ultimately, Boos said he was happy in Duluth, where he and his wife, Jenn, are raising sons Mason and Carter.
With his success, Boos acknowledged some larger schools have shown interest in him in the past.
“I’ve had opportunities, but in the end, there’s a life balance decision you’ve got to make,” said Boos, a native of Delafield, Wis. “Division I is a lot about keeping up with the Joneses and recruiting nationally. With my two children, I like the balance in my life right now. We can recruit good kids in Minnesota and Wisconsin and feel like we’re not missing out.
“I love Duluth and what we’ve built here. I love how I’ve been treated. I love the people I work with. When you actually sit down and think about it, it’d be pretty tough to pass that up. I’ve grown attached.”
Boos and his assistant coach, Christyn May, were up front with their players about his interest in the St. Cloud job. Boos is demanding as a coach but is fair.
“Jim isn’t a perfectionist, but he expects a lot out of us because he knows there is so much potential in each one of us,” said senior standout Alyssa Nelson. “I knew in the end he’d be in the right place, and if he left UMD for St. Cloud, us girls would just have to keep working hard and deal with it. We’re just really happy he stayed.”
Athletic budgets are tightening nationwide. Even St. Cloud State, the school where Boos applied, has considered the possibility of dropping its football program. With little money to work with, Nielson had to work administrative channels to get Boos his raise.
Nielson said there are certain things he doesn’t compromise on, and at the top of that list is taking care of his coaches.
“It’s not like our pool of money is getting larger,” Nielson said with a laugh. “But at the same time, I’ve always been a firm believer that you invest in people. We’ve got great facilities, but you always wish you had some things better. One thing you can’t change is your commitment to people. So when you look at our department, priority-wise, we invest in people, and will continue to do so.”