The Gophers gave Jerry Kill an early birthday present Friday, rewarding the fifth-year football coach with a $300,000 raise, a one-year extension through 2019 and $300,000 in combined raises to spread around the football department.
The deal had been in the works since Kill was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in December, but it took months to finalize, with Kill determined to build in raises for his assistant coaches and support staff.
The extension announcement came one week into training camp for Kill’s squad and one week after athletic director Norwood Teague resigned after sexually harassing two members of university President Eric Kaler’s senior leadership team.
“[The finished contract] makes you a lot more relaxed where you can coach,” said Kill, who turns 54 on Aug. 24. “We’ve had a lot of different situations that we’re going through right now, but I have complete confidence in our president.”
The raise lifts Kill’s salary to $2.5 million this season, which makes him the eighth-highest paid Big Ten coach behind Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Nebraska’s Mike Riley and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.
Most of Kill’s contract language is the same as it was in February 2014, when the university last reworked his deal, giving him a $900,000 pay bump and one-year extension.
Added up, Kill will make $2.6 million next year, then $2.7 million, $2.8 million and $2.9 million in 2019.
With the university reeling from the Teague scandal, Kill noted the importance of finalizing this deal for recruiting purposes.
“It’s important [recruits] know the head football coach is going to be here; otherwise we’re going to lose recruits,” Kill said.
Kill is 25-26 with the Gophers, including 13-19 in the Big Ten and 0-3 in bowl games. The Gophers were picked to finish fifth out of seven teams in the Big Ten West last year but wound up pushing Wisconsin down to the final game for the division title.
The Gophers were 8-5 for the second consecutive year, losing to Missouri in their first New Year’s Day bowl game since 1962.
“I have a great deal of respect for how Coach Kill runs his program,” Kaler said in a statement. “His intense focus on developing young men into outstanding students, athletes and citizens perfectly reflects the mission of Gopher Athletics.”
The deal Kill signed in 2014 ensured that the salary pool for his top nine assistant coaches — defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover, etc. — would rank in the top six in the Big Ten. This deal maintains that agreement, starting with a $175,000 combined raise for that group bringing those nine combined salaries to $3.05 million.
This deal has a new clause, ensuring that the university also will give a combined $125,000 in salary raises for the football support staff.
“The more you reward your people, the harder they’re going to work,” Kill said.
Kill signed the contract not knowing whom Kaler will pick as the next athletic director, though interim AD Beth Goetz and senior associate AD Dan O’Brien helped finalize the deal.
“The reason I’ve had the opportunity I’ve had over the last week is because of Beth and Dan,” Kill said. “So we’ve got good people. I know a lot of people are worried about this and that, but we can roll right now.”