Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Leavitt Becomes Big East’s Highest Paid Coach


March 11, 2008

TAMPA - University of South Florida coach Jim Leavitt stood before more than 100 high school recruits and their parents Saturday night and let them in on a little secret.

"He said he was going to sign a seven-year deal and he's not going anywhere for a long time," Chamberlain junior quarterback Dontae Aycock said.

Leavitt kept his word, signing a new seven-year, $12.6 million deal Monday, keeping him at USF through 2014.

As first reported by The Tampa Tribune, the deal is similar to the one offered to Leavitt on Nov. 29. However, Leavitt said he waited to sign because "I was busy hiring assistant coaches and recruiting."

Leavitt will make $1.5 million in 2008 with $100,000 increases each year to $2.1 million in 2014. His $1.8 million average over the life of the deal makes him the highest paid Big East coach, exceeding Rutgers' Greg Schiano ($1.7 million) and UConn's Randy Edsall ($1.5 million).

"It's all put together," Leavitt said. "It looks good."

Just two years ago, Leavitt signed a seven-year, $7 million deal. However, USF athletic director Doug Woolard said it was necessary to reward Leavitt, who is 79-47 since starting the program in 1996.

"He's done such a great job leading this program," Woolard said. "We wanted to be more in line with what was happening with the market and in the Big East."

One difference between Leavitt's new deal and the one he signed in November 2005 is a $200,000 increase in the assistants' pool. In 2007, five of USF's nine assistants were the lowest paid among BCS schools. The new deal increases the assistants' pool from $1.05 million to $1.25 million in 2008 and the pool increases $100,000 annually through 2012, when it tops out at $1.65 million.

Woolard said the assistants' increase was a mutual decision.

"We both wanted to be more reflective of the market," Woolard said. "We did make a significant bump."

Leavitt's new deal also provides more security for both USF and Leavitt.

If Leavitt is fired without cause - such as poor performance - he will receive 75 percent of the remaining contract, meaning $9.45 million of the $12.6 million deal is guaranteed.

Leavitt's deal also includes three additional incentives not in his old deal: $250,000 for winning the BCS national title; $200,000 for reaching the BCS national title game but not winning it; and $50,000 for a Top 10 finish in either the final AP or USA Today/coaches poll.

Dunedin junior running back Adarius Bellamy said Leavitt's longevity at USF was a "big selling point" in Bellamy becoming the Bulls' first verbal commitment Saturday.

"He said look at other schools and every four years it seems a different coach takes a different job," Bellamy said. "He's not going anywhere."

Popular Posts