University of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich said of his head football coach Charlie Strong, “In every aspect of his coaching ability, he has gotten an A-plus from me.” Jurich also put the school’s money where his mouth is by getting the personnel committee of the Athletic Association’s Board of Directors to approve a new 8 year contract that guarantees $3.7 million dollars a year, plus incentives.
The Big East Conference football Coach of the Year put together an 11-2 schedule and took his Cardinal squad to a BCS Sugar Bowl in only his third year of coaching at Louisville. Those kinds of results led to a host of rumors about various schools vying for Strong’s services. One of those lofty rumors was true as Tennessee tried to make a real play for the coach to no avail.
The way the package breaks down, Strong will get $1.85 million per year for his coaching responsibilities and another $1.85 million from his media commitments. That kind of compensation makes him one of the top 10 highest paid coaches in the country showing that Jurich followed through on his promise to match whatever any other school would be willing to pay to lure Strong away.
To be sure, Jurich got some university protection built into the contract, too. The buyout clause is substantial. If Strong gets hired away in 2013, he would have to pay the school $5 million. Each successive year that figure goes down but not by much.
Another significant reason to retain the Sugar Bowl winner translates to the classroom. After arriving on campus, he implored his players to show improvement not only on the field, but in class as well and the results came in waves. By spring 2010, 40 players had a 3.0 or better with 13 one the dean’s list. In spring 2011, 36 were on the AD’s honor roll, 12 made it to the dean’s list and 2 were dean’s scholars. Academics are important with the impending move to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
It’s well known that Strong wants to reward his assistants, but Jurich said those would be separate negotiations. How that plays out, especially for embattled associate head coach Clint Hurtt, remains to be announced.
Photo: Louisville.com/Max Sharp