Entering his ninth season at the helm of the Miami University's ice hockey program, Head Coach Enrico Blasi knows there are many more seasons to come after signing a 10-year contract extension Monday.
"I'm very honored that President (David) Hodge and (Athletic Director) Brad Bates continue to give me the opportunity to work at the place I love," Blasi said. "We're going to continue to build the program in a positive manner."
The extension, which adds more coaching years to his current, will keep Blasi in Oxford until at least 2016-17.
"I think (the extension) shows the commitment the administration has towards the hockey program and Rico here," senior hockey captain Ryan Jones said.
Although Blasi had several years left on his current contract, Bates said that Miami wanted to reward Blasi for his years of commitment with a longer contract.
The negotiations for his contract extension began at the end of last season, according to Bates, who explained that the contract talks didn't prove to be difficult, as both parties wanted what was best for the RedHawks.
"It wasn't something that required a lot of negation, Rico was very excited, Miami was very excited about the opportunity we had," Bates said. "To have someone with that sort of passion in a leadership role, can only be advantageous to not only the hockey program but to the entire community. We want him here for a long time and to retire here. He's been a great leader and has taken the program to the national level."
His base salary from last year of $100,000 will be increased, and there were also incentives added into the new contract, which are both competitive and academic, according to Bates.
"We put together a competitive package for him that demonstrated the university's commitment to the leadership of our hockey program,"
Blasi, who is very devoted to his family and children, said they were with him throughout the decision process.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
"My family has been a big part (in the decision), they have been intimately involved in the process and I wouldn't have done anything without them," Blasi said. "They are supportive and excited to have an opportunity to be in Oxford and Miami for a long time."
President David Hodge, who has only seen Blasi coaching for one season, was very excited to keep the coach in Oxford for another decade.
"We are excited that Coach Blasi has made such a long-term commitment to Miami University," said Hodge in a press release. "He and his ice hockey teams have contributed greatly to our student body and fans for the past eight seasons, and we look forward to the exciting moments that they are certain to generate over the coming years. Coach Blasi takes great pride in being a Miamian, and we are equally proud that he has chosen to remain a part of Miami University's family."
Members of the Miami ice hockey team didn't even know about the extension until it was published on www.muredhawks.com.
"The team didn't even know about it," Jones said. "He's such a humble guy he doesn't really talk about that stuff."
A 1994 Miami graduate, Blasi played ice hockey at Miami, helping lead the RedHawks to their first CCHA title during the 1992-93 season.
He took the reigns of the program in 1999, as the youngest head coach in Division-I hockey, and since then his list accomplishments has continued to grow.
Blasi is Miami's all-time winningest coach, with a record of 154-130-27; helped lead the 'Hawks to a No. 1 national ranking, the first by any team at Miami; and last season recorded the first NCAA Tournament victory for the hockey team.
On top of everything he has done athletically at Miami, Blasi stresses that his athletes complete their education and graduate from Miami.
"His student-athletes graduate, they compete for conference and national championships, are catalysts for
building community, and excel in their diverse endeavors," Bates said. "This contract clearly represents a commitment from Miami to Rico, and, equally as important, a commitment from Rico to his alma mater."
Now that the contract is signed, Blasi and his team must prepare for the season, in which they have been picked to finish first in the CCHA by the CCHA Coaches Poll.
"There's a certain responsibility we have each and every day we step on the ice," Blasi said. "What (the Coaches Poll) tells us today is that we have an obligation and responsibility to work towards proving these coaches right."
The RedHawks will take on Waterloo Oct. 6 in Oxford, and will begin their first weekend series Oct. 12 against Vermont, also at the Goggin Ice Center.