CMU’s Sue Guevara earns at least $340K under new deal

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Central Michigan’s historic run to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 has earned long-time coach Sue Guevara a substantial raise that draws her significantly closer to the highest-paid women’s basketball coaches in the state.

Guevara’s new contract, officially signed earlier this week, will pay her a base salary of $290,000 a year, according to details obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information Act request. That’s a 19.3-percent raise from the $234,000 she was earning under a revised deal signed in March 2015.

Her new, five-year contract runs through the 2022-23 season, a two-year extension.

Among her peers in Michigan, Guevara trails only Michigan State’s Suzy Merchant ($458,025) and Michigan’s Kim Barnes-Arico ($360,000). Eastern Michigan’s Fred Castro earns $195,000, Western Michigan’s Shane Clipfell $166,650, and Oakland’s Jeff Tungate $147,434. Detroit Mercy coach Bernard Scott’s salary isn’t made available to the public, because Detroit Mercy is a private institution.

“This puts Coach G. exactly where she has taken this program — to the top of the MAC and among the best in the Group of Five schools,” athletic director Michael Alford said. “Student-athletes thrive in this program.”

Guevara, 63, a Saginaw native who just completed her 11th season at Central Michigan, stands to pocket much more than her base salary, however. She will earn an additional $50,000 a year for TV and radio appearances, as well as university promotional appearances. Those sums increase in the later years of the contract.

For the early years of the contract, those add-ons bring her guaranteed compensation to $340,000, and that doesn’t include bonuses. Central Michigan’s big season — the Chippewas were 30-4, won the Mid-American Conference and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history — earned her at least $90,000 in bonuses this season, and most of the bonus benchmarks are worth more under her new contract.

Guevara spent seven years as Michigan’s coach, before landing at Central Michigan in 2007. Her basketball coaching career began as an assistant at Saginaw Valley State in the late 1970s, and also has included stops at Ohio State, Ball State, Michigan State and Auburn.

She told The News recently she has no retirement plans, especially not after this season, which she called among her most-fun ever.

“I do get to turn 64 in July, and the way I feel, you could just reverse those numbers. That’s how I feel,” said Guevara, 204-148 at Central Michigan, with two NCAA appearances, and 326-230 overall, with four NCAA appearances.

Guevara’s contract, signed by outgoing president George E. Ross and Alford, does include a steep buyout should she decide to leave Central Michigan — $1.5 million if she were to depart before the end of Year 1, $750,000 before the end of Year 2, $500,000 before the end of Year 3, and $250,000 before the end of Year 4 and Year 5.

The new deal is the first major coaching decision for Alford, who took over as athletic director last May.

Central Michigan finished 20th in the final coaches’ poll for 2018, and could start the 2018-19 season ranked, too, with returning stars such as guard Presley Hudson, forward Reyna Frost, and guard Micaela Kelly. The Chippewas lose two big players in forward Tinara Moore, the MAC player of the year, and guard Cassie Breen. Moore, of Southgate, signed a training-camp tryout with the Washington Mystics of the WNBA.

The four-player recruiting class is promising, though — and, in a Central Michigan first, it doesn’t feature a single player from the state of Michigan.