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Leavitt signs extension through 2014



USF football coach Jim Leavitt signed a contract extension Monday to keep him at USF through the 2014 season, getting a significant raise that makes him the Big East's highest-paid coach after leading the Bulls to a No. 2 ranking last fall.

"I appreciate President (Judy) Genshaft and (athletic director) Doug Woolard for allowing me to be a part of a great University and a great Athletic Department,” Leavitt said in a statement.  “I also appreciate the Tampa Bay community for all the support, and I have to praise the outstanding coaches and players that have been with me throughout my tenure here. I can't imagine a better opportunity in this country.  I'm excited about being a part of a program that should never take a back seat to any other."

The seven-year, $12.6-million contract is very similar to the offer first reported in late January, with an annual salary that starts at $1.5-million and increases by $100,000 each season. Over the next five years, It's a 70 percent raise over his previous contract, which paid $1-million per year.

Leavitt jumps ahead of Connecticut's Randy Edsall ($1.5-million per year) and Rutgers' Greg Schiano ($1.7-million) to become the Big East's highest-paid head football coach. The contract also increases the salary pool for Leavitt's nine assistant coaches to $1.25-million, with the pool increasing by $100,000 in each of the next four seasons.

More than a month had passed since the offer was first reported, but Leavitt had said the delay was only because he was attending to finalizing his incoming recruiting class and hiring two assistants to complete his staff. USF's release said that no state funds would be used toward Leavitt's new raise, with the funding coming from USF's marketing agreement with ISP Sports and its new apparel contract with Under Armour.

Leavitt, 51, is the only coach in USF's 11-year football history, with a record of 79-47, including bowl trips in each of the last three seasons. A 6-0 start last season, including upsets of ranked Auburn and West Virginia teams, vaulted USF to No. 2 in the national rankings, and the Bulls finished their season at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, where they lost to Oregon, 56-21.

"We're pleased to enter into an agreement with Jim Leavitt that secures him as our head football coach through 2014,” Woolard said in a statement.  “What his leadership has accomplished is unmatched in the country with regards to beginning and developing a nationally recognized football program. Our football program continues to be a great catalyst for helping to brand the University of South Florida and for bringing positive recognition to the entire Tampa Bay area. This extension is reflective of the market, is highly competitive within the Big East Conference and continues to demonstrate our commitment and our desire to provide the type of program our fans and alumni deserve.”

Should another program try to pry Leavitt from USF, the cost of terming the contract earlier is a high one: $1-million in 2008, with the buyout decreasing by $100,000 each year until it plateaus at $500,000 in 2013.

The contract's Incentives put no limit to USF's success and include $75,000 for playing in a BCS bowl, which escalates to $100,000 if USF wins the Big East, $200,000 if the Bulls play in the national championship game and $250,000 if USF wins a national title. That last win-it-all clause was added to the contract since USF's initial offer was first reported in January, as was a provision giving Leavitt $50,000 if the Bulls finish in the top 10 in either the Associated Press or coaches' poll. Leavitt also can earn $50,000 for being honored as Big East Coach of the Year.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:15pm]


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