Home Sports Luke Fickell's contract extension approved by Cincinnati Board of Trustees – The Athletic

Luke Fickell's contract extension approved by Cincinnati Board of Trustees – The Athletic

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Luke Fickell's contract extension approved by Cincinnati Board of Trustees – The Athletic

By Justin Williams
February 22, 2022Updated 2:37 PM EST
5 Comments

Cincinnati's Board of Trustees unanimously approved a contract extension for Bearcats football coach Luke Fickell on Tuesday morning, as expected.

The approval made official Fickell's two-year extension through the 2028 season that will pay him $5 million per year, as first reported by The Athletic last week. The new deal represents an annual increase of $1.6 million to Fickell's salary and bumps his assistant salary pool from $3.85 million up to $5.2 million.

"(The new extension) was a response to (Fickell's) success as he's progressed here," Cincinnati athletic director John Cunningham said after the board meeting on Tuesday. "Especially over the last two years, the number of tremendous victories we've had and how the program has moved in the direction in terms of academics, off-the-field, what his program is all about. But certainly, the Big 12 played a role in that. We understand what it's going to take and what the price of poker is in the Big 12. That's going to be something we'll have to continue to grow."

Cunningham said the extension is funded through a combination of fundraising and expected revenue growth upon the Bearcats joining the Big 12 as early as the 2023 season.

"We understand what the financial benefit of going to the Big 12 is and will be in the future, so that gives us a little bit of a backstop we've never had before," Cunningham said.

Fickell's buyout, should he choose to leave for another job, begins at $3.5 million before Jan. 1, 2023, according to a copy of the extension received via public record request. The buyout then drops by $500,000 each calendar year until it hits $1 million before Jan. 1, 2028, and drops to $0 on or after Jan. 1, 2028.

Fickell's extension includes an additional, annual $50,000 bonus for the entire football staff that is to be distributed at the discretion of the athletic director with input from Fickell. It also includes a contractual acknowledgment of the "importance of improved practice facilities to Coach." The university is in the process of hiring an architect for a new permanent indoor practice facility and performance center that is expected to cost at least $70 million and be ready for use by the 2025 football season.

"We'll put shovels in the ground as quickly as we can. Coach (Fickell) wants it to happen tomorrow and I'm pushing for it to happen as soon as possible," Cunningham said of the new facility. "One of the things that is in (the extension) is a commitment to the indoor facility and performance center. That was really important to him. And the other big piece was increasing the salary pool for his assistants. That was something he's talked about since the first day I met him."

The practice facility project is part of a $100 million fundraising campaign the Bearcats recently announced ahead of the program's upcoming move to the Big 12.

"It's going really well. We're probably a quarter of the way there, and some of that had to do with some fundraising we did before the announcement," Cunningham said. "In terms of where we're going and new facilities, we've had significant commitments, we're getting in front of everybody, and we expect some really important gifts coming down the pike here soon."

(Photo: Mark LoMoglio / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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