The University of Maryland announced Tuesday that women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese has signed a contract extension, keeping the program’s winningest coach in College Park through the 2028-29 season.
According to contract details obtained by The Baltimore Sun, Frese will make $1.7 million, a $300,000 raise from the six-year contract extension she signed in May 2021. Her amended contract will pay her an annual income of $1,040,000 per contract year in addition to her base salary of $660,000. Frese’s supplemental annual income will increase by $100,000, beginning in May 2023.
Frese will receive an additional $350,000 if she remains the coach until May 2, 2024, and an additional $350,000 if she is still coaching the Terps by May 2, 2027. Her previous contract was through the 2026-27 season and included an option for an additional one-year extension for the 2027-28 season.
Frese said she is honored and humbled by the extension, as it’s a testament to the success has had over the last 20 years.
“This is home for me and my family,” she said. “To have that longevity of 20 years here, and now for many more, I’m just thrilled and excited to know that I’ll be able to continue to keep leading the way here.”
Last season, Frese was the sixth-highest paid women’s college basketball coach and had the second-largest buyout ($7.8 million), according to USA Today’s database. At $1.7 million per year, Frese will be the fifth-highest paid coach, behind Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma ($2.9 million), South Carolina’s Dawn Staley ($2.696 million), LSU’s Kim Mulkey ($2.64 million) and Texas’ Vic Schaefer ($1.8 million).
“When I first came here, I was hoping to get a contract extension, and kind of prove that I was good enough,” Frese said. “You work really hard and I think good things happen.”
Frese’s extension comes after leading the Terps to a 23-9 record last season and reaching the Sweet 16 for the second straight season, where they fell to Stanford, 72-66.
Frese, who took over the program in 2002, led Maryland to its first and only NCAA championship in 2006. She has racked up 19 winning seasons, 18 consecutive 20-win seasons, seven 30-win campaigns and 18 bids to the NCAA Tournament while advancing to three Final Fours, six Elite Eights and 10 Sweet 16s.
Maryland has won 14 conference championships, including regular season and tournament titles under Frese. Since the Terps joined the Big Ten Conference in 2014, they have won six league championships, and Frese is one of three coaches to be named AP Coach of the Year more than once, joining Auriemma, Mulkey and former Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw.
Frese has had little trouble recruiting in College Park with 14 recruiting classes ranked top 10 in the nation, and her 2015-16 recruiting class was ranked No. 1.
“I’m very proud of the sustained level of excellence that we’ve been able to have,” said Frese, who was named National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press after the 2020-21 season when Maryland went 26-3 and reached the Sweet 16. “You never want to be that one-hit-wonder. For us to be able to have that level of excellence and be able to sustain it for a really long time, that’s something that I’m equally as proud of.”
It hasn’t all been easy for Frese, who like many college coaches has had to adapt to the new age of college athletics where student-athletes are earning money from their name, image and likeness. The NCAA’s one-time transfer rule has also allowed players to switch schools without sitting out a year. According to The Athletic, more than 1,000 women’s basketball players were in the transfer portal as of April 6, including many of the nation’s top players.
Maryland wasn’t immune. After this past season, Frese watched five players, including All-Americans Angel Reese and Ashley Owusu, enter the transfer portal. However, the Terps have since reloaded by getting commitments from top-60 recruits Gia Cooke and Brianna McDaniels and adding former Princeton guard Abby Meyers, a Maryland native, and former South Florida guard Elisa Pinzan from the transfer portal.
“I mean, the transfer portal isn’t going away. That’s our new reality,” Frese said. “But like you’ve seen with us getting Chloe Bibby and Katie Benson, there’s a lot of great talent, and we were able to secure that in this offseason. And we’re not even finished yet.”
In February 2021, Frese won her 500th game at Maryland, making her the winningest coach in program history. She currently owns a record of 535-140 (.793 winning percentage) at Maryland and 592-170 (.777) in her 23 years as a head coach, which includes stints at Minnesota and Ball State. Her career winning percentage is the highest of all Big Ten men’s and women’s coaches.
“I always felt like Maryland was a gold mine,” said Frese, who has had six conference players of the year and eight conference rookies of the year during her tenure at Maryland. “I thought that this was one of the best jobs in the country and I would say that hasn’t changed.
“When we’ve had the success of Final Fours, national championships, Sweet 16 and Elite Eight runs, you’re talking about high character kids that come from terrific families. I feel fortunate to have been able to coach so many tremendous student-athletes.”
Last month, Maryland hired Kevin Willard to be its next men’s basketball coach, agreeing to a seven-year, $29 million contract with an annual salary of $3.9 million. In December, the school paid former men’s coach Mark Turgeon a $5 million buyout after he and the school parted ways. He signed a three-year, $17 million contract extension in April 2021.