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Scalzo: Enjoy Boldon ... while you still can

Published: Mon, March 4, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

It costs about $40,000 a day to rent a Bugatti Veyron. It costs almost $3,500 a month to rent a Manhattan apartment. And it costs almost $98,000 a year to rent Bob Boldon as your women’s basketball coach.

Because that’s what Youngstown State is doing. Renting.

Three years ago, Boldon took over an 0-30 team that ranked 341st out of 345 teams in the country. The Penguins lost by an average of 26 points and suffered more blowouts than a $2 tire.

Now? YSU is 20-7, ranks second in the Horizon League, 60th in the country and first in slack-jawed observers. Brandi Brown deserves some of the credit for that. (OK, a LOT of the credit.) But Boldon does, too.

The Penguins spend about $200,000 less on women’s basketball than any other team in the Horizon League, but that’s not news. Heck, only one Horizon League team (UIC) spends less on women’s basketball than YSU does on men’s basketball. What’s news is, a team that never before had a winning record in the Horizon League has managed to win (and win and win) despite missing two of the five best players on a roster that was already lacking in minor things such as height and athleticism.

I’ve noticed this. You’ve noticed this. And you can bet other athletic directors have noticed this, too.

Boldon signed a four-year deal worth $97,850 per season in April of 2010, with YSU holding a fifth-year option. YSU also provides benefits and a car. He can also earn performance benefits such as $1,500 for a Horizon League title, $3,000 per NCAA tournament game and $2,000 per WNIT game. (The Penguins need two more wins to qualify for the WNIT.)

It’s not a bad paycheck but it’s on the low end for Division I coaches.

Ohio’s Semeka Randall, for instance, signed for $142,000 per year in 2008 and has gone 50-101 over the last five years. Akron’s Jodi Kest (who hired Boldon as her top assistant from 2006-08) makes about $145,000. That doesn’t compare to UConn’s Geno Auriemma ($1.8 million) but it’s about 50 percent more than Boldon makes.

How many of us would turn that raise down?

Boldon won’t owe YSU a penny if he leaves after this season but YSU will owe him plenty. He resurrected the program. The team’s grade point average last season was 3.505 — sixth best in the country. It was even better in the fall. And while Brown is leaving, it’s not like the cupboard is bare. Four starters will return, as will standout sophomore Heidi Schlegel, who spent most of the year coming off the bench before injuring her knee.

The Penguins will probably never catch Green Bay, which has won 15 straight regular season Horizon League titles, but that’s not Boldon’s fault.

Green Bay is, at worst, the No. 2 women’s program in Wisconsin. Ohio’s a different story. The Penguins rank ... what? Tenth in Ohio? Maybe?

Yes, there are reasons for Boldon to stay. He grew up less than an hour away. He’s married with young kids. And after coaching at eight different schools in seven different states, he (and they) might be tired of moving.

Plus, he likes it here. And YSU likes him.

But money and ambition are powerful motivators.

On Saturday, YSU celebrated Brandi Brown Appreciation Day. Maybe today they should celebrate Bob Boldon Appreciation Day.

After all, it might be their only chance.

Joe Scalzo covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write him at scalzo@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter @JoeScalzo1.


1YtownSports(306 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

I hope Joe is wrong, but it's a natural conclusion. Boldon is a special coach who will have success anywhere he goes. There's hope, though. YSU kept Jim Tressel for 15 years in the face of many offers from other bigger places offering much larger paychecks.

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2Rockyroad(149 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

The solution is obvious: Get rid of Slocum, at last, and give the higher-paying men's job to Bolden. Then give Bolden's assistant the women's job to maintain continuity.

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3Spiderlegs(161 comments)posted 3 years, 4 months ago

YSU women's basketball could turn into a referendum on Strollo's leadership ability. Bolden is easy pickings next time Akron or Kent St. seek a coach. Strollo has poured tons of money into football, which can't even make the FCS playoffs, and here's our resource-starved women's basketball team hovering just a notch below the elite. Yes, Brandi Brown is awesome, but the cadre of players surrounding her that make this happen are all Bolden's work. Given the money YSU seems to have for sports, it would be pretty easy to keep Bolden here for a long time. However, I think if Bolden goes, Strollo must go, too. Bolden is showing that there's a chance to build something really great at YSU--Strollo needs to step up and do his part.

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