Arizona head softball coach Mike Candrea has agreed to terms that will extend his contract through the 2022 season and increase his yearly base salary to $345,000, Director of Athletics Dave Heeke announced on Monday. In addition to the base salary, Candrea's five-year extension includes performance bonuses and 50,000 units in a master limited partnership that will vest at stages throughout the contract. The combined package will make Candrea one of the highest-paid collegiate softball coaches in the country. The extension has been agreed to in principle but is subject to final approval by the Arizona Board of Regents.
"Simply put, Mike Candrea is the greatest coach in the history of softball," Heeke said. "From the National Championships to the Olympic medals, nobody has done more to grow the sport of softball. During his time as head coach at Arizona, Mike has shown an incredible aptitude to not only produce excellent softball players, but also excellent people, and we couldn't be happier that he's agreed to continue to lead our program well into the future."
The Division I wins leader in college softball history, Candrea has enjoyed three decades of unparalleled success at the helm of the Arizona softball program. He has produced a 1,520-388-2 (.796) record in 32 seasons at Arizona. Under Candrea, the Wildcats have won eight national championships and appeared in 22 Women's College World Series, which are both the most for any coach in collegiate history.
"I've been blessed to lead our softball program for the last 32 years," stated Candrea. "I always tell people that I've never worked a day in my life, because I'm doing what I love to do at a special place like Arizona. The University, the administration and the Tucson community supports the game of softball, and that isn't the case everywhere. I feel fortunate to be able to continue in my role as head coach and I look forward to seeing what we can do as a program moving forward."
A 12 time conference coach of the year, Candrea has guided the program to 11 conference championships, including the 2017 Pac-12 title. Last season, he won his 1,500th career game, becoming the fastest coach in NCAA history, in any sport at any level, to win 1,500 games. In total, Candrea has coached 99 All-Americans, five National Players of the Year and four Olympians during his time at Arizona.
Candrea has also served internationally with USA Softball. He was the head coach of Team USA's medal-winning teams in the 2004 and '08 Olympics. The team earned gold in Athens in 2004 and silver in Beijing in 2008.
Due to Candrea's success on the field, Hillenbrand Stadium has become one of the legendary parks in the country. Arizona has led the nation in home attendance per game nine times since the stadium opened in 1993, including five times in the last 12 years. In 2011, the Wildcats set a then-NCAA record for attendance, attracting 77,129 fans over 30 home dates. In total, Hillenbrand Stadium has seen more than 1,000,000 fans enter its gates.
In addition to ensuring Candrea continues to lead the program, Arizona Athletics has launched an extensive study to evaluate potential renovation opportunities at Hillenbrand Stadium. Details on those opportunities will be made public once they have been solidified.