Ishee makes contract official

Friday, March 30, 2007

Southeast will seek replacements for Ishee's vacated assistant's job and Lingor's part-time spot.

Southeast women's basketball coach John Ishee signed his contract with the university on Thursday, agreeing to a deal nearly identical to the one signed by former coach B.J. Smith last April.

Ishee, who came to Southeast last summer as an assistant coach and became the acting coach when Smith was placed on leave and ultimately resigned, signed a three-year deal with an annual base salary of $75,000 per year.

The agreement, which pays Ishee $6,250 per month through April 30, 2010, was dated to commence March 5.

The base and the incentives were identical to the deal the university struck last April with Smith after he had led Southeast to its first Ohio Valley Conference championship and its first NCAA tournament appearance but while the program was under NCAA investigation for potential rules violations.

The program, the most successful in the OVC in the last five years, remains under NCAA investigation.

Smith was placed on leave in November just prior to the opener, and he resigned in December.

Ishee was promoted to acting coach and led the Redhawks to an outright OVC regular season title after they were picked for fifth in the preseason poll. The Redhawks won the OVC tournament, had the most wins in program history and capped a 24-8 season with a solid effort in a 74-60 loss to Oklahoma in the NCAA tournament.

Southeast athletic director Don Kaverman confirmed Thursday that Ishee had signed his deal.

Kaverman added that Southeast will post the vacancy for the assistant's position that Ishee held until his promotion, and also will post the position vacated by Jenni Lingor, who had the part-time assistant's job for one year. Lingor, who was being paid a base of $13,000 and received $2,000 as part of the staff's additional duties following Smith's resignation, recently resigned her post.

The university has received no resignation from Lisa Pace, who completed her seventh year as an assistant coach at Southeast. Internet reports have Pace, who earned a base of $40,000 last year and was paid an additional $5,000 after the staff changes, considering a higher-paying assistant's position.

Ishee's deal includes an incentives package identical to Smith's: $1,000 for OVC coach of the year honors; $2,000 for the OVC regular season title; $2,000 if the team is invited to th Women's NIT (which is guaranteed under a regular-season title); $2,500 for an OVC tournament championship or NCAA at-large berth; $7,500 for an NCAA tournament win that puts the team in the final 32; $15,000 for a spot in the Sweet 16; and $25,000 for a berth in the Final Four.

The awards are not cumulative, which means Ishee would receive only the amount of the highest award.

In addition to wording the university had in Smith's contract about terminating a coach's employment for cause or without cause, Ishee's contract also includes a buyout clause equal to one-half the remaining base salary in the contract. Called the liquidated damages provision, the clause is intended to help the university recover expenses that may be incurred while replacing the coach along with the potential loss of ticket revenue.

Ishee also must submit a 30-day notice if he intends to terminate the agreement, and the notification must take place between March 10 and April 10. The contract states that if the team still is playing, which would be postseason play, both the coach and the university must agree before an announcement is made.

That wording was not in Smith's agreement.

Ishee did resign from his last post as the head women's basketball coach at New Mexico Highlands University in February 2006 with a month remaining in the season. He left when the team was 6-11; the Cowgirls finished 12-14.

Ishee previously was an assistant at New Mexico State (2003 to 2005), a volunteer assistant at Southeast (2002-03) and posted a 22-10 record in the 2001-02 season as the head coach at Life University in Georgia. He also has been an assistant at Mississippi (1997 to 2001), McNeese State (1996-97), St. Louis (1995-96), Pacific (1994-95) and Southern Miss (1991 to 1994).

Ishee was hired at a base salary of $32,500 for the 2006-07 school year but earned an additional $10,000 as the acting head coach.

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