Southern Miss coach Eustachy gives back $25,000 bonus
Larry Eustachy gave back his $25,000 bonus after a 15-17 finish
He compares his decision to corporations being bailed out by the government
The Southern Miss AD said he has never had a bonus returned before
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Southern Miss basketball coach Larry Eustachy said he refused to accept a $25,0000 bonus because times are tough and wins were hard to come by for his Golden Eagles.
"I really compare it to AIG," Eustachy said of the insurance giant that drew public outrage by giving $65 million in bonuses after being bailed out. "Why would I take a bonus when we went backwards?"
The Golden Eagles were 15-17 this season and Eustachy has been recruiting nonstop since being knocked out of the Conference USA tournament in an overtime loss to UAB. He's been to Kansas for the junior college national tournament, Minnesota, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida.
When he got home, he fell into bed and slept for 24 hours.
"I feel like the Donner Party going over the pass," Eustachy said shortly after waking up Monday.
The university announced Feb. 28 that Eustachy would not accept the bonus, which is tied to attendance but is not part of his approximately $380,000 salary package.
"I just felt particularly during this recession that we are in and the situation our school is in, it just didn't go right with me to accept anything above and beyond my normal contract," Eustachy said. "I'm not trying to make a statement. I'm just being myself."
Eustachy returned the money around the time Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun made headlines for his reaction to a reporter's question about the legitimacy of his $1.6 million salary.
Southern Miss athletic director Richard Giannini has never had a coach return a bonus before and Eustachy's action took him by surprise.
"It's a first for me, I just think it reflects positively on the type of individual Larry Eustachy is and the fact that he knows the economy is down," Giannini said. "We're all struggling with it and he was the one that came to me and wanted to donate that back to the university."
Eustachy said he doesn't want to endure another season like this one. The Golden Eagles won 20 games two seasons ago and 19 last year. All signs pointed to something even better this season for the program, just as an $11 million arena renovation was being completed.
But injuries, academic troubles and bad luck left Eustachy with just seven scholarship players this year. It added up to a disappointing season.
Eustachy expects to earn the bonus next year. Even with the possible departure of junior guard Jeremy Wise, who is considering declaring for the NBA draft, he feels the roster will be stocked.
Along with returning starters R.L. Horton and Sai'Quon Stone, who was injured this season, Eustachy will have Southern Cal transfer Angelo Johnson in the fold and four others who redshirted this season for various reasons.
"It will be the best talent that's been here in 10 years, however it shakes out," Eustachy said.
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