Last week, longtime St. Patrick (N.J.) High basketball coach Kevin Boyle left the school he transformed into a national power for an identical position at Montverde (Fla.) Academy, a small private school in the midst of a similar thrust up the national rankings. While the competitive logistics and site of the Montverde job were factors in Boyle's decision, it has since become clear that he also had a significant financial incentive to take the position.
According to Scouts Focus chief Joe Davis, multiple St. Patrick players confirmed that Boyle disclosed the terms of his new contract in his meeting informing them of his departure. While the players couldn't recall the exact number he cited, they all said he was making more than $100,000 per year, in addition to having the use of a free school car and a house for his family. The Boyle family's new house will be reportedly be across the street from Montverde.
Those personal testaments match a report from high school basketball blogger Adam Zagoria which claimed Boyle's new salary will be $130,000 annually. If that number is true, Boyle will be paid more than four current NCAA Division I coaches, including the head men at Binghamton and North Dakota State, both of which have made the NCAA tournament in recent seasons.
In a telephone conversation with Prep Rally on Thursday, Boyle disputed that he ever disclosed any terms of his new contract with his former players, saying that he had described the Montverde job only as, "a better opportunity for my family."
"All I told them was that I had a better opportunity for my family," Boyle said. "I would never get into confidential contract details. Any contract between me and the school is obviously in the strictest confidence unless the school decided to divulge it. Unless I knew differently I wouldn't release it, and the writer never talked to me about the contract."
As striking as Boyle's reported salary may seem, they become even more surprising when you consider the fact that Boyle reportedly wasn't even the school's first choice for the job. According to FOX5Vegas, Findlay Prep (Nev.) Academy coach Mike Peck was offered the job and turned down the opportunity, before it was offered up to Boyle, allegedly with similar terms, according to two sources close to the Findlay Prep basketball community who spoke to Scouts Focus on the condition of anonymity.
For his part, Montverde Academy headmaster Kasey Kesselring refuted both the accuracy of Boyle's compensation package as reported by Zagoria and the school's interest in Peck filling the position.
"While the terms of Coach Boyle's compensation package are contractually confidential and will remain so, I will say for the record that what has been reported is false and has been misused," Kesselring wrote in a Thursday email to Prep Rally.
"Coach Michael Peck was never offered the coaching position at Montverde Academy. ... Coach Michael Peck was a candidate for the position at Montverde Academy but later withdrew his name from consideration. Coach Michael Peck's interest or perceived lack thereof in the position at Montverde Academy had no influence in our selection of Coach Kevin Boyle."
Whether Peck withdrew from consideration for the Montverde opportunity for financial or lifestyle reasons remains unknown.
No matter how well Boyle is being remunerated in his new gig, the one he left behind carries with it some immensely talented players who are left with delicate emotions over his departure. That balance is a testament to the job he did building the St. Patrick program, but it also speaks to how difficult the school will find it to fill his void.
As the Scouts Focus video above shows, the St. Patrick program suddenly finds itself in a state of flux, hoping to retain as many top players as it can, all the while realistic that some very well may depart.
One of the most hyped among that crop is freshman phenom Dakari Johnson, who openly questioned whether he would return to the school next year, saying that the school he attends next year would be, "a family decision." Meanwhile, junior point guard Deshaun Suber and sophomore swingman Jason Boswell both said they tentatively plan to return, regardless of statements that may have come out immediately after the news of Boyle's departure leaked.
Regardless of where those players wind up, and who coaches them, it's clear that Boyle's move to Florida has done far more than change the trajectory of one program in New Jersey; it's also altered the landscape of prep basketball in the tri-state area, and possibly even changed the expectations of what it takes to build a top program at the national level.