Mike Hopkins was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year in his first season with the Washington Huskies, leading the team to a 21-13 record, a 10-8 mark in the conference and a trip to the NIT despite the program changing leadership and losing the No. 1 pick in the draft in Markelle Fultz.
He deserved every bit of the award.
But he won’t be keeping the bonus.
Hop’s contract says that he gets a $15,000 bonus for winning Coach of the Year, and he will in turn be giving that money back to the people that he feels helped him earn it: the fans. He will be giving out $15,000 worth of Starbucks gift card to Washington fans this week.
“It was a great honor to be named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, but the reality is this is a tribute to our entire team, our program and the University community,” Hopkins said. “I wouldn’t have won this award without such incredible support, so I wanted to give back to some of the many important people who have made this a memorable first season possible, and have welcomed me and my family into this incredible Seattle community.”
Here’s the irony in all of this: As much as the fans helped Washington win games this season, they didn’t do as much as Washington’s players did. The fact that players like Jaylen Nowell, Noah Dickerson and Matisse Thybulle had the years they did and immediately took to Hop’s 2-3 zone is the reason they won the games they won and why the fans had a product on the court worth showing up and cheering for.
And if Hop tried to thank his players by giving them their share of the bonus in gift cards, he would be committing an NCAA violation.
Amateurism is fun, isn’t it?