Memphis basketball coach Penny Hardaway has agreed to a five-year contract extension that will tie him to the university through the 2025-2026 season, the University of Memphis announced Monday. The extension is worth a total of $12.25 million over the five years and starts at $2.325 million in the spring of 2021. His salary will escalate to $2.5 million in the third and fourth years of the deal and again in the fifth year to $2.6 million.
"Coach Hardaway has rejuvenated Memphis basketball and has shown tremendous leadership in the Tigers program," Memphis athletic director Laird Veatch said Monday in a press release announcing the extension. "He has had top-ranked recruiting classes and is establishing the foundation of a nationally competitive program. I have really enjoyed working with him, and we are excited to have Coach lead our program in the many years to come."
Hardaway has helped breathe life into Memphis, his alma mater, since taking over the program from Tubby Smith in 2018. He was hired in the spring of 2018 and immediately assembled the top-ranked recruiting class in the AAC, winning 22 games in his first season. He then used that momentum to enroll the top-ranked recruiting class in the country led by the top-ranked recruit in the country, James Wiseman.
Wiseman played only three games with the Tigers last season as he dealt with eligibility issues and eventually left the school, but Memphis still managed to win 21 games in a turbulent season thanks to the emergence of first-round NBA Draft pick Precious Achiuwa. And Achiuwa's success helped Hardaway secure a commitment this summer from Memphis standout Moussa Cisse, a top-10 national recruit who has already taken over as the team's starting center.
The Tigers this season have stumbled out of the gate to a 5-3 start, but his prowess as a recruiter and personal ties to Memphis gives the program legitimate staying power as a force in the American, and so locking him down for the long haul makes sense.
"Coaching at Memphis is my dream job," Hardaway said. "I'm so thankful for the board of trustees, President Rudd, Laird Veatch and all of our loyal donors and fans for their continued support. Memphis basketball is in the national spotlight, and we are continuing to get better and better every day. The future is bright for the Tigers."