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UCLA Rumored to be Interested in Matt Painter

UCLA had pretty good luck the last time they hired a Purdue guy.

NCAA Basketball: Purdue at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

There is little question that this season has been one of Matt Painter’s best coaching jobs. Assuming Purdue takes care of business on Saturday at Northwestern he will bring home his third Big Ten championship and second in two seasons. If not for a rebound last year it would be three in a row, too. Even after a frustrating game Tuesday in Minneapolis Purdue has exceeded expectations and with only two seniors (and a possible early departure) the future looks bright as a young team has gained experience for the future.

Painter’s success is drawing some jealous eyes, however, as it appears UCLA may be interested after failing with Indiana alum Steve Alford according to Jeff Borzello at ESPN.

I recognize this is behind a pay wall, but there are multiple tweets out there mentioning Painter’s name as a connection to UCLA. First off, it would be quite ironic that the program with the Most NCAA titles in 11 (10 from Purdue alum John Wooden) would look to Purdue after failing with the Indiana guy that led them to their last glory. Second, there is the obvious Painter/Wooden Purdue connection, although Painter is nowhere near the same plain of coaching legend as Wooden.

Still, it is interesting. You need only look at the comments, our twitter mentions, the GBI message boards, and our FanPosts all after a loss to see the antipathy that some Purdue have towards Painter. There were numerous comments from the other night that the loss at Minnesota was just another example of how we failed again when it mattered most and we’re settling for mediocrity instead of demanding more (whatever this is supposed to mean. It is a common refrain).

Realistically though, Painter is one of the best coaches in America. He is a game away from a third Big Ten championship in the past 10 seasons and he also coached the only two teams in Big Ten history to win 15 games in an 18-game schedule that did not win at least a share of the league title (2008 and 2018). He has been to four Sweet 16s so far and while he has yet to win a game there, his two best chances were certainly derailed by injuries to Robbie Hummel and Isaac Haas (with a third chance also lost in 2011 without Hummel). He may not have broken through yet, but at least gives you a chance at a breakthrough each year.

The coaching position currently has a $10 million endowment and Painter is officially under contract through the 2023-24 season at roughly $2.8 million a year. He also has a rolling one-year extension that kicks in each May after July 1 of this year with a $25,000 per year increase each year unless Painter or Purdue chooses to not exercise that extension. Basically, he gets an automatic extension each May to keep his term at five years as long as both he and the university wants him here. Next year he hits the $3 million mark with the $25,000 per year increases kicking in after next season.

As far as his buyout goes Purdue would owe him $12,392,244 if he was fired without cause, while UCLA would have to pay a substantial amount of that to get him. By comparison, UCLA was set to pay Alford $2.6 million this year before he was fired. I would say to get Painter they would have to crack $3.5 million a year if not 4, which would make Painter one of the five highest paid coaches in all of college basketball.

UCLA is also rumored to be talking to Jeff Brohm for the same position.