It is safe to say most Badger fans were in a state of shock Friday when UW women's basketball head coach Lisa Stone received a contract extension.
What's even more shocking are those saying the extension wasn't surprising.
There's a difference between saving some money by keeping Stone around and giving her a vote of confidence by adding a year on her contract, which only complicates a buyout even more.
I was among the first to realize that Stone wasn't going anywhere this off-season. With the economy in shambles, a buyout costing more than a half-million dollars was out of the question. But extending her contract on the heels of a 6-12 Big Ten record in a season that only saw a 3-win improvement from the previous year is more than questionable.
There's no doubt there was improvement when you consider such a young team won 19 games after a Jolene Anderson-led team won only 16 the year before. But when you also consider the level of competition, the win difference says more about the failures of Stone's 2007-08 team than the success of the 2008-09 team.
Last year's squad won 19 games only because of a weak non-conference schedule. Stone's supporters will point to UW's huge win over Baylor, a top-10 team, as a signature win. That victory cannot be ignored, but neither can the strength of schedule, or lack thereof, in the rest of the non-conference season. When the Big Ten season came around, the Badgers were welcomed to reality and only won a third of their league games. UW lost late leads in a number of those losses, which reflects directly on the coaching staff.
There's no question Stone did enough to keep her job, especially in economic times like these, but an extension is a complete overreation of what was no more than a mediocre season.
With the recent contract extensions of Stone, Bret Bielema and Mike Eaves, Barry Alvarez is sending the wrong message: Mediocrity is good enough.
Biddy vs. Barry
Before the news of Stone's contract extension, Andy Baggot from the Wisconsin State Journal brought up an interesting situation between UW Chancellor Biddy Martin and UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez.
The debate centers on the role of the UW Athletic Board when it comes to hiring coaches. Baggot describes the situation better than I can, so read the story, but basically Martin is caught in the middle and has to side with either Alvarez or the school and state lawmakers.
More good news for Stone
On the same day she received a one-year contract extension, Stone also received a commitment from Iowa guard Morgan Paige to join the Badgers in 2010.