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Northern Iowa rewards coach with 10-year deal

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — After leading Northern Iowa to the biggest win in school history, coach Ben Jacobson is sticking with the Panthers.

Northern Iowa and Jacobson agreed to a 10-year deal, athletic director Troy Dannen said Wednesday. The agreement will increase Jacobson's annual salary to $450,000 starting next season, with annual raises of $25,000 throughout the length of a deal that runs through 2020.

Jacobson's old contract paid him $289,300 per year and ran through 2016. Northern Iowa said that no public funds will be used to fund the increase in the new agreement.

"We could not be more proud to have Ben Jacobson continue to lead our men's basketball program well into the future," Dannen said in a statement released by the school. "Ben is not only one of the top young coaches in the nation but he's also a great educator and mentor."

Jacobson, 39, is in his fourth season as Panthers coach and has won back-to-back Missouri Valley coach of the year honors. He was an assistant under Greg McDermott for five seasons, taking over when McDermott left for Iowa State in 2006.

Jacobson led the Panthers to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2008-09, and this season Northern Iowa caught everyone's attention by stunning top-seeded Kansas 69-67 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The team plays Michigan State in the Midwest Region semifinals in St. Louis on Friday night.

Kansas coach Bill Self is guaranteed $3 million a year.

MOUNTAINEERS STAY POISED: West Virginia's Da'Sean Butler already was settled in his seat preparing for the news conference to begin while teammate Darryl Bryant — with his broken right foot — still was hobbling up the stairs of the riser.

"Hurry up," Butler yelled out with a playful smile to emphasize he was kidding.

"I'm trying," Bryant said, laughing as he carried his crutches and hopped to his seat on one foot, a day after hearing something pop in his foot during practice.

Evidently nothing, not even the sudden news of losing their starting point guard, was capable of penetrating the upbeat mood of the second-seeded Mountaineers a day before they faced upstart 11th-seeded Washington in the East Region semifinal.

"I don't see where the whole panic about everything will be. I think we'll be fine," Butler said. "We'll continue to smile and be loose and enjoy ourselves because this is, well, wow."

ORANGE CENTER OUT: Syracuse center Arinze Onuaku will not play tonight against Butler in the West Region semifinal.

Orange coach Jim Boeheim says the 6-foot-9 Onuaku is doing better but will not be available because of an injured right quadriceps. He didn't speculate on whether Onuaku would play Saturday if the team advances.

Onuaku averaged 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds this season.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: Mark Coury hopes to have the last laugh.

A walk-on as a freshman at Kentucky, Coury played two seasons there before transferring to Cornell and now will face his former teammates tonight in the semifinals of the East Region.

"I joked about it with friends and my ex-teammates when I talked to them, 'Yeah, wouldn't that be great if we somehow end up in the tournament and play you guys?' " Coury said. "I never thought it would actually happen."

Two more wins and the 12th-seeded Big Red will become the lowest seed to ever reach the Final Four.

LEMOYNE'S LEGACY: Tiny Division II Le Moyne College shocked crosstown foe Syracuse in the preseason in November, and the aftereffects of that 82-79 victory linger all these months later.

After Syracuse humbled Vermont and Gonzaga in the opening rounds, Le Moyne's star rose yet again.

"We have a clipping service and Le Moyne was getting mentioned six to 10 times a day," said Kim McAuliff, director of alumni. "The morning after the Syracuse win (over Gonzaga on Sunday), we had 100 plus. We're still getting mentioned. We're not the sleepy little school in central New York. It put us on the map."

Northern Iowa rewards coach with 10-year deal 03/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:22pm]
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