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Published: Thursday, 5/18/2006

Board OKs Joplin contract; Rockets coach gets 3-year deal

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Joplin Joplin
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As a lame duck coach, it didn't appear last Feb. 2 that Stan Joplin had even a remote chance of remaining in charge of the men's basketball program at the University of Toledo.

His Rockets, preseason favorites to win the Mid-American Conference's West Division, were 3-8 in league play and closer to last place than first in the West.

Today, Joplin has a new three-year contract that will keep him on the UT bench through the 2008-09 season.

As reported in The Blade March 14, athletic director Mike O'Brien said shortly after the season ended that Joplin would be re-hired, but the length and terms of a new contract were not made public until yesterday, after approval by the UT Board of Trustees.

According to O'Brien, Joplin will receive a base salary of $140,744 and marketing income of $30,000 annually. The new pact also includes bonuses for winning the MAC West, winning the MAC tournament, advancing to postseason play in either the NCAA or NIT, for reaching NCAA academic progress goals, and for attendance. In most cases, those incentives would each amount to 5 percent of the coach's base salary.

"Obviously, I'm happy it has been resolved," Joplin said. "We're coming off a very good season, on and off the court, and we want to build on the momentum from that."

UT lost a hard-fought, 57-53 decision at Western Michigan on Feb. 1. It was a seventh MAC road game for the Rockets in a 10-game span.

Afterwards, Broncos coach Steve Hawkins picked up a copy of UT's game notes, scanned the schedule page, and said, "That team has had a brutal stretch. Heck, as hard as they play, they could win out from here."

He was close to being right. UT responded with seven straight MAC wins - the only loss was at the buzzer against Detroit in a non-conference road game - to close the regular season. The Rockets then swept three opponents - Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Akron - in the MAC tournament before dropping a 71-66 contest to Kent in the title game.

Coupled with an NCAA academic progress report that ranked UT as the No. 1 men's basketball program in the MAC, the 20-11 season saved Joplin's job and bought him three more years.

"I always tried to look at the big picture," Joplin said. "I knew January was going to be tough. We had some individuals who weren't playing their best ball, which bothered me far more than my situation. But we were still barely coming up short in most games. I felt it was a matter of time, so I stayed the course."

Joplin owns a 173-123 record in 10 seasons as coach at his alma mater. The 173 wins rank No. 2 on UT's all-time list behind Bob Nichols, for whom Joplin played from 1975-79.

Contact Dave Hackenberg at:

dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398.



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