By: B.J. Bethel
CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati and football coach Luke Fickell have agreed on a contract extension through 2028.
Fickell, who led UC to the College Football Playoff last season and an American Athletic Conference title, will be paid $5 million a year. The salary pool for UC football assistants was also increased to $5.2 million per year.
WCPO reported that Fickell and the university had come to terms on a deal last week. The extension was pending a vote by the UC Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Feb. 22.
“We believe we have the best coach in the country and the best leader for our Cincinnati football program,” Director of Athletics John Cunningham said in a statement. “He has proven that day in and day out by building a culture that consistently wins and breaks records, but most importantly, develops men of great character, setting them up to succeed in life. This is also a major step forward toward making sure we will be ‘Day One Ready’ and prepared to compete for championships when we join the Big 12 conference.”
Fickell’s newest contract will replace the extension he received in 2020. The Athletic’s Justin Williams reported the new deal represents a $1.6 million increase in Fickell’s annual salary and a $1.35 million increase in the staff salary pool.
The Bearcats finished the season at No. 4 in the nation and became the first Group of Five team to ever make the College Football Playoff. At the end of 2021, Fickell was the 45th highest-paid coach in college football, according to USA Today.
“He’s worth probably $7 to $8 million,” said Richard Katz, a Cincinnati-based sports agent. “I mean, he can make this program into one of the top football programs in the country.”
When two top jobs opened up at Notre Dame and Oklahoma, oddsmakers listed Fickell as a top prospect in both coaching searches. Still, he said in a press conference he “wouldn’t know (about the openings) if someone didn’t tell (him).”
247Sports ranked UC’s 2022 recruiting class 42nd in the nation and first in the American Athletic Conference, while Rivals has the Bearcats at No. 41. UC will join the Big 12 Conference no later than 2024.
Reposted with permission from WCPO 9 Cincinnati.