Less than five months ago, Mike Krzyzewski said he wanted a contract that would give him greater job stability. Stability to its fullest extent was granted to the 26-year veteran when he signed a lifetime contract with the University.
Announced at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, the contract mandates that Krzyzewski serve as Duke's coach until at least 2011 and binds him to conclude his career at Duke. Krzyzewski has also been named special assistant to President Nan Keohane. Radiating a huge smile as he sat by Keohane and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva, Krzyzewski was clearly pleased with what he termed a consummation of "marriage" with his longtime institution.
"There are times where you just have to celebrate commitment, and this contract celebrates commitment," Krzyzewski said. "You do it in marriage, and you do it in a number of things--I'm doing it with my university on this day, which makes me feel great."
If Krzyzewski's lifetime contract is analogous to a marriage, no one wants to publicly recite the vows of the union. Except for the stipulation that keeps Krzyzewski at Duke for the next 10 years, the terms of the contract--including his salary--have not been released. But Alleva said Krzyzewski would be compensated "appropriately, reflecting his achievements and his many contributions to the athletic program and the University."
Alleva, Krzyzewski and Keohane initiated contract negotiations during the summer, following the announcement that Krzyzewsi would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Krzyzewski said his goal was to reach an agreement with Alleva before the start of Duke's season, which begins Monday in Maui after a final exhibition game tonight. With little speculation from local media, the proceedings were held in private, to the satisfaction of the involved parties.
Keohane expressed happiness with Krzyzewski's new post, which she said will formalize the regular interaction the two currently share in regard to University issues.
"It is both a recognition of a partnership that has developed and of the level of visibility and commitment to the whole University that Mike has had," she said. "I was thinking just the other day when we had a meeting of all the boards of visitors of every part of the Medical Center--350 people came together to talk about the future of the Duke Medical Center and its research and its teaching. Of course, Mike was the only person who could address that whole group and get them all excited and... to focus their vision on the future. That's the kind of thing Mike does so beautifully for Duke."
As an ambassador for the University, Krzyzewski mentioned that he wants to play a more active role in promoting the capital campaign, which has not yet reached its $2 billion goal. In particular, the coach said that he could help provide a final push with benefactors as the campaign's goal becomes closer to reality.
Furthermore, Krzyzewski said he believed his new title would allow him to remain an active presence at the University after he retires from coaching. He expressed his gratitude toward Keohane for her constant support and said he looked forward to consulting with her in the years to come.
"I don't think you necessarily have to have a lifetime contract to have commitment. What you need to have on a day-to-day basis is dialogue where you're not working for somebody, you're working with somebody," Krzyzewski said. "And I've never felt that I work for Duke or for my presidents or for my AD. I've always felt that I've worked with them, and they've provided the atmosphere for that to happen. I don't think that happens very much."
If Krzyzewski decides to retire in 2011, he will likely be near the record for all-time wins of 876 set by longtime adversary Dean Smith, who coached at North Carolina for 36 seasons. To tie Smith's mark, the Duke coach--who has 606 career wins--would have to maintain an average of 27 wins per season, the Blue Devils' mean for the past decade.