MSU Extends Coaching Contracts of Beard, Cunningham

SPRINGFIELD — Missouri State University has offered contract extensions to football head coach Ryan Beard and women’s basketball head coach Beth Cunningham, the university announced Friday.

Both contracts are subject to formal approval by the Missouri State University Board of Governors at its regularly-scheduled meeting next week.

In preparation for MSU’s move to Conference USA, Beard’s new five-year agreement extends through Jan. 14, 2029 with a base salary of $315,000 this season. In year two of the new agreement (2025) — Missouri State’s first season in CUSA — Beard’s base salary increases to $450,000. Additional salary increases are scheduled in years three through five as part of the new contract with additional achievement payments included for meeting minimum thresholds in team grade-point average, APR, conference finishes, victories, postseason appearances, attendance, coaching accolades and national rankings.

“My family and I want to thank Clif (Smart), Kyle (Moats), the Board of Governors and incoming President (Richard B.) Williams for their support and belief in the direction of our football program,” said Beard. “Our commitment to excellence in all areas of our program will not waiver as we navigate this historic move to FBS. Our student-athletes and staff are working tirelessly to put a stamp on our last year in The Valley and to generate momentum heading into CUSA. There has never been a better time to be a MoState Bear.”

Beard’s first season as Missouri State’s head coach in 2023 was highlighted by strong November performances and a highly-recognized passing offense that ranked No. 5 nationally among all FCS programs at 300.3 yards per game. MoState’s late-season surge included a convincing home win over No. 15 Northern Iowa, a hard-fought loss at eventual national champion South Dakota State in the season finale.

Cunningham’s guaranteed five-year contract, in addition to a clause that includes an extra year due to the appointment of a new director of athletics, extends her current agreement through May 31, 2030. Her base salary will be increased to $385,000 in year one of the new agreement and $405,000 in year two. Subsequent increases in years three through six are also included in the extended deal. 

Her contract also includes numerous incentive and achievement pay bonuses including the areas of academic performance, attendance and on-court success which includes overall victories, awards and conference and NCAA postseason success, among other incentives.  

“I appreciate the continued support of President Clif Smart and Kyle Moats,” said Cunningham. “I am extremely proud and grateful for the opportunity to be the leader of the Lady Bears program for years to come. As we continue to build upon the success of the last two seasons, I want our fans to know that my hungry and committed players and staff are already hard at work on building a tough and connected team this summer.”

Cunningham has led the Lady Bears to a 43-22 overall record in her first two seasons at the helm, including a 29-11 mark in Missouri Valley Conference action. Missouri State has collected back-to-back 20-win seasons and made two postseason appearances under the leadership of Cunningham.  

The Board of Governors’ annual evaluation of salaries and benefits for athletics coaches and staff is held in executive session. The Missouri Open Meetings and Records Law (known as the Sunshine Law), provides public governmental bodies 72 hours in which to announce personnel decisions taken in executive session.

This article is provided by Missouri State
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