University of New Mexico Vice President/Director of Athletics Eddie Nuñez announced Friday that Lobo men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino has received a contract extension, running through the 2027-28 season.
“We are excited to commit to Richard Pitino to lead our men’s basketball program into the future,” said Nuñez. “Over the last two seasons, I have been impressed with his leadership on and off the court and in the community. This past season, as our program saw success on the court, it coincided with significant increases in our ticket revenue, merchandise sales, concessions and donations. The time is right to invest in this program and I believe Lobo basketball has a bright future with Coach Pitino leading the way. This extension wouldn’t be possible without the commitment of key donors who share in this vision for the future of the program, along with the continued support of the university administration and board of regents, who recognize how the success of athletics brings a spotlight to the university.”
Pitino is entering his third season as coach of New Mexico, and his 12th overall as a Division I head coach. In each of his first two seasons in Albuquerque, the Lobos have shown great improvement. In 2022-23, UNM had its first 20-win season and postseason appearance in nine years. New Mexico’s 22 victories marked a nine-win improvement over his first season with the Lobos. That first season in Albuquerque, in 2021-22, saw the Lobos make a seven-win improvement from the previous season. New Mexico’s season-ending rank of No. 64 in the NCAA NET in 2022-23 was an improvement of 239 places from the No. 303 ranking on the day Pitino was hired.
“I am extremely grateful for Eddie Nuñez and President Stokes for continuing to believe in what we are building in Lobo Basketball,” said Pitino. “We have made great progress in a short amount of time and we couldn’t have done it without their support. My family and I have cherished our time in Albuquerque. We have one of the best fan bases in all of college basketball and they deserve a program to be proud of. I am so excited for what the future holds.”
The success of the Lobos under Pitino’s leadership has been evident in the excitement of the New Mexico fanbase. Over 228,000 fans came to The Pit last season, ranking UNM 15th nationally in overall attendance, its first top 15 national ranking 2004-05. New Mexico had five home games over 15,000 fans, after not reaching that mark since the 2015-16 season. The crowd of 15,431 that attended the game against San Diego State on February 25 was the largest at The Pit since the 2008-09 season, prior to renovations that decreased the capacity.
Under the terms of the extension, Pitino will make $1.1 million next season and the figure will rise to $1.25 million in the final year of the deal in 2027-28.