Matt Painter Can Leave Purdue After Next Season, But Would He?
We don't know if he'd be willing, but the Lafayette Journal & Courier has discovered Painter has an out clause in his eight-year contract that would allow him to leave after next basketball season (July 1, 2011 to be specific), without penalty and with six years remaining on the deal.
Painter has led the Boilermakers to a 112-56 record in his five seasons at the helm in West Lafayette (he previously coached Southern Illinois for one season). The back-to-back appearances in the Sweet 16 (2009 and 2010) were a major feat, as legendary Purdue hoops coach Gene Keady only accomplished such a feat from 1998-2000 (three straight) and didn't make his second Sweet 16 until his 14th season.
Furthermore, Painter's vaunted recruiting class of Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, now all seniors, has his team in position to make the school's first Final Four since 1980. There's enough talent on the team to win Purdue's first NCAA championship, as the Boilers are among the consensus top three teams heading into next season.
He wouldn't leave that self-created, nearly-ideal situation, would he?
Well, if Painter were so inclined, the 2011 NCAA tournament could be a springboard for him.
Painter landed some good players before the aforementioned trio of seniors-to-be (who were also notably joined by since-transferred Scott Martin as freshmen) and he's landed some since. There's no disputing he can recruit. But can he do this again? Meaning, can he garner a trio of players who are good enough to all three be All-Americans by their senior year and keep them together for four years? If so, Purdue is a perennial Final Four contender, but the possibility of such a hypothetical is debatable. It's possible, but not very likely.
Even if it is, you also wonder: What if Painter won the national title and an NBA team or so-called traditional power program with tons of money and clout came and knocked him over with an offer? Is there enough at Purdue to keep him happy for life? We can't answer that right now.
Painter himself sounds like he's not going to close any doors, while making sure to say all the right things.
"You always do your best as an employee for an institution, but you have to take care of you and your family when it comes to negotiating the best contract for yourself," he told the Journal & Courier after discussing his Final Four aspirations.
Painter pointed out that the clause was included as part of the negotiating process, implying it was to help make up for the fact that Purdue maybe couldn't pay him as much as both sides would have liked.
"Some coaches have had astronomical buyouts and they go to another job and they're paying it off for three, four, five or six years and you don't want to be in that kind of position. Anytime you can put yourself in a position to have a lower buyout, that only makes sense," he told the paper.
While Painter won't be charged a termination fee, he would forfeit about $1.2 million in retention bonuses should he depart West Lafayette, but that's small potatoes compared to nearly all other Division I coaches in terms of out-clauses.
Nothing in here is really shocking, of course. Painter might sound like he's looking to jump ship until you consider the fact that he could possibly have everything fall apart next year and fall out of favor. While highly unlikely, you still never know what's going to happen. Of course he's not closing any doors right now.
But if forced to wager on the subject, I'd bet on Painter being more Tom Izzo than Rick Pitino or John Calipari. Not that either side is the right way -- especially when most average people in the world would take the new job and big pay raise in a heartbeat -- but I just have a gut feeling Painter's going to be in West Lafayette for a long time.
And if he wins the big one in only his sixth year, well, that's just gravy for the school.