UK rewards baseball coach with 5-year deal worth more than $2 million

mmaloney@herald-leader.comJuly 3, 2012 

Reaping the rewards of a school-record 45-victory season at the University of Kentucky, baseball coach Gary Henderson has signed a new five-year contract worth $2.145 million plus incentives.

Henderson took over as head coach in 2009. He had served as associate head coach, pitching coach and recruiting coordinator from 2004-08 under John Cohen, when the Cats twice won 44 games.

UK went 28-26, 31-25 and 25-30 in the first three seasons under Henderson's lead, then broke out with a 45-18 mark this season.

"We've had a good nine years. There's been some ups and downs, as there are in all athletics," Henderson said during a Tuesday news conference at Commonwealth Stadium. "There's been a lot of fun times at Cliff Hagan (Stadium) and there's a lot of things left that we want to get accomplished."

This year, UK advanced to the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, its best finish in the modern era (since 1996).

Henderson was named SEC Coach of the Year, having led the Cats to a third-place finish in the regular season. UK led the league for a school-record eight of 10 weeks, was ranked No. 1 in the country for three weeks and was nationally ranked for 13 consecutive weeks.

"It goes on and on and on, all the things that they did and they accomplished," Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. "The guy leading the charge is obviously Gary Henderson."

Henderson's annual salary will go to $325,000 in the first year of the new contract, then $340,000; $355,000; $375,000 and $375,000. Add to that $75,000 a year in endorsements.

Incentives include two months' salary if the Cats win an SEC regular-season or tournament championship, one month's salary for NCAA post-season participation, 11/2 months' salary for reaching NCAA Super Regional play and two months' salary for reaching the College World Series.

If the team achieves a .950 academic progress rate or better in any academic year, Henderson will earn a performance supplement of $2,500.

Assistant coaches Brad Bohannon and Brian Green also have signed new contracts. Bohannon is UK's recruiting coordinator and third-base coach. Green is the Wildcats' offensive coordinator and hitting coach.

"It was very important to me that we were able to keep Brad Bohannon, Brian Green and (volunteer assistant and first-base coach) Keith Vorhoff on my staff," Henderson said. "My three assistants have tremendous passion, energy, intelligence and work ethic. The continuity of our staff has been a program strength, and I appreciate Mitch's efforts to help with that continuity."

Bohannon's contract, through 2014, is worth $145,000 a year plus incentives.

Green's deal, also through 2014, is for $155,000 plus incentives.

Henderson said that a long-discussed facilities upgrade did not factor into contract discussions.

"I didn't feel like that was something I wanted to put in the contract. I just didn't think it was necessary," he said. "I think Mitch is going to do everything he can as quick as he can."

Barnhart said a new or upgraded facility tops his list for making sure that UK is "where we need to be in the Southeastern Conference."

"We know our facility needs some help, whether it's (on the present site) or whether it's moved over to Alumni Drive," Barnhart said. "Those are probably the two options, and how we make that all work as fast as possible is critically important to the ability to help Gary."

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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