Celtics’ Brad Stevens denies being offered seven-year, $70 million deal to coach Indiana University

Late last month, Indiana University hired Mike Woodson to be the new coach of its men’s basketball team, officially ending the speculation surrounding Brad Stevens. But while we’ve known for some time now that Stevens wouldn’t be leaving the Boston Celtics to go back to college, we didn’t know just how seriously Indiana was pursuing him.

As it turns out, they really weren’t messing around. On Saturday, ahead of the Celtics matchup with the Golden State Warriors, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the school made Stevens a massive long-term offer to take the job.

“That Indiana University job that opened a few weeks ago,” Wojnarowski said. “I was told that Indiana was prepared to offer him seven years, $70 million.”

That is a staggering sum that would have made Stevens the highest-paid coach in NCAA men’s basketball by some margin. For now, that honor still belongs to John Calipari, who makes $8 million per year at Kentucky. In fact, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Jay Wright of Villanova are the only college coaches making more than $5 million per year. 

It’s not clear how much Stevens makes right now, as terms of the contract extension he signed in August of 2020 were not released. It’s safe to assume that it’s less than $10 million per year, however, as Indiana certainly wouldn’t have offered him a pay decrease as part of their pitch to convince him to leave the NBA

While that’s a lot of money to turn down, Stevens made it clear prior to Boston’s matchup against the Chicago Bulls Monday that no offer was ever made. He expanded on those thoughts and all of the reasons why he feels that he owes it to the Celtics organization to fulfill the job he was hired to do, which is lead the team forward, as the franchise and city as a whole have been very good to him and his family over the years.  

“First of all, I was never offered a package, so that’s all news to me,” Stevens said. “Secondly, I wasn’t going to leave anyways. And the reason being is because this place, regardless of it was a pro organization or college, has been so good to our family, so good to me. And we owe them, especially in the middle of a very trying season that is, you know, right in the middle of a pandemic, we owe them to stay the course. And so I don’t know how long I’m going to coach. I don’t know how long I’m going to coach in the NBA. I don’t know how long they’ll want me to coach in the NBA. I don’t know what I’ll do after that. Maybe I’ll figure out something new, but right now I am thrilled to be the Celtics head coach. It is a great challenge and a great responsibility. And so, you know, try to minimize all the distractions around that but, you know, I was never offered that so I don’t know where that came.”

In addition, there are a number of challenges that come with being a college coach, as Stevens is quite familiar with from his days at Butler. Most notably, recruiting, which is an exhausting exercise. If the actual basketball responsibilities weren’t enough, college coaches have to spend months and months each year trying to convince players to join the program. Obviously, Stevens has multiple reasons he didn’t want to leave the NBA, but that’s likely at the top of the list. 

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