Details of new Utah State hoops coach Danny Sprinkle's contract, and more

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LOGAN — Utah State continues to up the ante when it comes to paying its basketball coaches.

In 2018, Craig Smith received a base salary of $600,000 per year. In 2021, the university agreed to a five-year, $800,000 deal with Ryan Odom. And now, Danny Sprinkle will become the highest paid coach in program history, boasting a starting salary of $900,000.

Sprinkle agreed to a five-year deal on Friday that begins at $900,000 and includes a $25,000 raise annually, according to a contract obtained by from the university. It's a significant deal for the former Montana State coach, who made a base salary of $185,711 his latest year in Bozeman.

He will also get $530,000 to be allocated annually to pay three assistants — the same amount Odom's assistants received — and $150,000 will be allocated annually to employ a director of basketball operations, administrative positions, and one full-time graduate assistant.

"It happened fast," Sprinkle told The Zone on Friday morning. "They did some interviews down in Houston at the Final Four and then came up to (Bozeman) for about 10 hours total late this week, and it was just kind of the perfect fit. Obviously, it was going to take the perfect fit for me to leave my alma mater and what we built here."

Losing Odom to VCU was a major blow, but Utah State is set to receive a nice pay day from the buyout that will help pay for Sprinkle's salary. Per his contract, Odom owes the university 50% of his salary for the remaining three years of the deal, meaning Utah State will receive a $1.2 million payment from VCU for a buyout. The Aggies owe Montana State just $250,000 to buy out Sprinkle, which will give the university $950,000.

After seeing two coaches hired away in the span of three seasons, Utah State increased its buyout number for Sprinkle. If he terminates the contract for convenience within the first two years, he owes the university 75% of the remaining salary. If he terminates it during the final three years, he owes 50% of the remaining salary. If Utah State terminates his contract without cause at any point, it owes Sprinkle 75% of the remaining salary.

Assistant coaches

Sprinkle intends to meet with Odom's former head assistant Nate Dixon, who has remained in Logan and applied for the head coaching position, confirmed on Friday. Maintaining Dixon on staff would be a nice addition to the program. His close relationship with several players on the current roster and experience recruiting the state would also help the program maintain some continuity in the transition.

Noah Ralby, who came to Logan with Odom's staff after serving as a graduate assistant and then became the director of basketball analytics, is still in Logan and will also meet with Sprinkle.

The former Montana State coach will also likely consider individuals on his former staff to help round out his coaching staff in Logan.

Chirs Haslam, his head assistant, has been in Bozeman for 10 seasons and was voted as one of the Big Sky Conference's top five assistant coaches by the league's assistants for Stadium Basketball in 2020. Bobcats assistant coach Andy Hill was an assistant at Utah for 10 seasons and was an assistant at New Mexico for the 2021-22 season.

Rounding out Sprinkle's staff at Montana State is Johnny Hill, who coached in the WAC or Big Sky since 2017.

"What I look for are (assistants) that fit the institution and know how to recruit," Sprinkle said. "And you have to get guys that have experience. ... I don't just want recruiters; I want guys that take pride in mentoring young men, that care about them off the court, socially, as students."


One day after entering the transfer portal, Steven Ashworth accepting a Robins Award in Logan — Utah State's annual awards presentation — for the best male athlete of the year. It will take a concerted effort by Sprinkle to bring him back into the fold.

Ashworth has heard from Gonzaga, Creighton and BYU, among other schools, less than 24 hours after entering the portal, according to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein. The first team All-Mountain West junior has two years of eligibility and was one of the best shooters in the country this season — and, arguably, the top guard in the state.

Utah State also lost starting guards Max Shulga and Sean Bairstow to the portal this week. Convincing either of them to stay in Logan will be an arduous task. Balancing the incoming freshman class and returning players, Sprinkles currently has five scholarships available to convince players to stay or bring in new ones. That number can always shift, however.

"Right now, the seven leading scorers from last year's team are either in the portal or their eligibility's up, and so there's a lot of work we have to do," Sprinkles said. "We've got to recruit like mad men. We're a little bit behind the eight-ball already right now, and there's no time to be wasted."

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