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Dave Heeke comments on Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson being linked to LSU job

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OMAHA—Arizona baseball is back on the national stage, and with that extra attention comes at least one potentially unfortunate byproduct: other programs want to take your coach.

Glenn Guilbeau of the Lafayette Daily Advertiser is reporting that UA coach Jay Johnson is among those that LSU athletic director Scott Woodward is considering for his vacant baseball position.

Johnson, in his sixth season at Arizona, has the Wildcats in the College World Series for the second time in his tenure. The UA (45-16) opens CWS play Saturday night against defending champion Vanderbilt (45-15) at TD Ameritrade Park.

LSU coach Paul Manieri retired after the 2021 season, which ended with the Tigers falling to Tennessee in the Super Regionals after upsetting Oregon in the regional round. Guilbeau is reporting that Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco and East Carolina’s Cliff Godwin have both been interviewed but that neither were offered the job.

“Woodward may come back to Bianco or Godwin, but he is considering exploring his interest in three coaches who have teams at the College World Series, the sources said—Tennessee coach Tony Vitello, Arizona coach Jay Johnson and Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin,” Guilbeau wrote.

Johnson, who is under contract with Arizona through 2023, has a base salary of $530,000 this season, though he was subject to a department-wide 20 percent pay reduction due to COVID-19. He also has shares in the UA’s Longevity Fund, plus $65,000 from Nike, with The Tennessean putting his total 2020-21 compensation at $856,687.

That makes Johnson the second-highest paid coach in the CWS field, not including Stanford’s David Esquer, whose salary information is not public record. Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin, whose salary info is also not public record, reportedly earned more than $1.4 million in 2019 according to tax records viewed by the Tennessean.

The most recent salary information available for Manieri, from 2018, had him earning $1.225 million from LSU.

“It was one of my priorities when I first got here to make sure that Jay was in agreement with us that we wanted to build something special,” UA athletic director Dave Heeke said Saturday, shortly after the Wildcats left the team hotel for the stadium. “It was important to me at that time to build his package here at Arizona, so he wants to stay here for a long time. It’s a compliment when our coaches are on lists and are sought after. It means they’re some of the best in the country. We look forward to dealing with that at the end of the season.”

Heeke has been in the extension business of late, granting UA women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes two extensions in the past four months while also extending men’s tennis coach Clancy Shields through the 2026 season after he led the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance.