Cuonzo Martin

Missouri got their man in coach Cuonzo Martin, and the Tigers could be in the 2018 NCAA Tournament if he indeed brings five-star player Michael Porter, Jr. to Columbia.

Mizzou can thank a short-sighted Washington Huskies basketball program for firing Lorenzo Romar last week and opening Porter’s availability to any team in the nation.

One of Martin’s first moves is trying to lure Michael Porter Sr., as an assistant coach, an action reminiscent of coach Larry Brown hiring a former NBA bench player named Ed Manning as an assistant coach in 1986.

Manning, who was working as a sanitation department employee in North Carolina just happened to have a highly-recruited son named Danny Manning.

Happy days could be here again for Missouri’s downtrodden men’s basketball team and Martin’s contract shows the team’s commitment to him and his future staff.

First, Missouri is sending a $1.1 million check to California to cover Martin’s buyout from the contract extension he signed last October.

Details of the seven-year, $21 million deal were published in the Kansas City Star on Tuesday and Martin is locked in until at least May 2020.

Regardless of record or lack of success, the Tigers can’t fire Martin without cause until May 1, 2020.

If he were terminated between May 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021 the school would owe him $6 million.

While the buyout figure drops in the years after 2021, the $6-million buyout dates are pushed back a year if Missouri wins 20 games or reaches the NCAA Tournament.

The date Missouri would owe Martin $6 million in buyout continues to be pushed back with every NCAA appearance through the 2022 season.

If things go South on Martin and he feels the need to move on before April 30, 2018 – after just one season – he would owe Missouri $10.5 million.

The longer he stays, the less money he would owe Mizzou to leave, but his departure price would still be $3 million in 2021.

Martin’s salary goes up a tad every year, which includes a $300,000 annual base salary each year.

Martin will receive $2.7 million in total guaranteed compensation next season, and that figure rises $100,000 each season. He will keep pace with inflation – and other coaches’ respective salaries – through 2023-24 when he will be making $3.3. million.

Other perks include a country club membership, two courtesy cars, a Mizzou Arena suite at home basketball games and six premium tickets for each home football game.

He could add $605,000 in incentives, and he has been granted a $1.1 million salary pool for basketball-specific staff of three assistant coaches, a strength and conditioning coach, a director of basketball operations and a director of video operations.

This is an increase of more than $200,000 over the budget for the fired Kim Anderson. Mizzou is also throwing in $110,000 for graduate-assistants and part-time support staff.

I have no doubt that Martin will make Missouri a winner soon – and he already has a winning contract.

Rough cut diamonds

A USA TODAY Sports study released concluded that of 67 bench-clearing incidents in Major League Baseball between 2010 and September 2015 involved fights between players with different ethnic backgrounds in 87 percent of the time.

Thirty-four of the fights featured white Americans against foreign-born Latinos. Four involved white Americans and U.S.-born Latinos.

White Americans composed about 60 percent of MLB players and foreign-born Latinos’ population is at about 33 percent. Obviously, there is a culture clash.

This was obvious during the World Baseball Classic, which concluded Wednesday night.

Yadier Molina and his Puerto Rican teammates dyed their hair blond and celebrated every great play or timely base hit like a fiesta. Their fans are just as excited. The Dominican Republic, ousted by the USA team last Sunday, was just as flamboyant as were other teams from Latino nations.

When this carries over into the MLB season, it’s obvious that many white players don’t like it – and Latino players don’t care.

If MLB games were like those in the WBC, more younger fans, minority fans and non-traditional baseball fans would attend games. Quite frankly, the NFL has figured this out is cashing in on its wisdom.

Baseball, as usual, is behind the times.

Keatts leader of The Pack

It didn’t take long for a team to swoop in and hire Kevin Keatts away from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. He is now the head coach of the North Carolina Wolfpack.

He also isn’t mincing words when it comes to his team and its demanding fan base.

"I think this is a good bunch of guys, but I'm not so sure that they didn't always play for the name on the (front) of the jersey," Keatts said at his introductory press conference.

"If we can get everybody to play together and play for N.C. State, then certainly, we'll go a long way."

As for Wolfpack fans, he said “"Don't you want a fan base that wants to win? Don't you want a fan base that wants some bragging rights?"

Debbie Yow, a former Saint Louis University athletic director who now holds the same post for North Carolina State, said Keatts has “the right mindset, the ability and the wisdom to maximize every opportunity for success."

Yow has been at the helm when basketball fortunes improved at SLU and Maryland, so she has a proven track record. 

Alvin A. Reid is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook and appears on ABC’s The Allman Report and several sports radio shows, including Frank Cusumano’s “The Press Box” on KFNS. His Twitter handle is #aareid1

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