The University of Arkansas announced this morning that it has extended football coach Bret Bielema’s contract by two years, to 2020, and increased his pay in 2015 from about $3.2 million to $4 million, with $100,000 increases in each of the subsequent five years. The contract also includes a number of potential bonuses for sports and academic success, up to $1 million a year.
This follows a round of raises for Bielema’s assistants after a 7-6 season that closed with a bowl game victory.
The full release follows:
The University of Arkansas has signed head football coach Bret Bielema to a two-year contract extension of his employment agreement through December 2020, it was announced by Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long on Saturday.
“Coach Bret Bielema is not only one of the best college football coaches in the nation, he is an outstanding leader,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. “What Coach Bielema and his coaching staff have done for our young men, on and off the field, is something that has dramatically changed the course of our program and most importantly positively impacted the lives of our football student-athletes. He is building a championship program in a way that all Arkansans can be proud of. We look forward to his continued leadership of our football program and the many successes yet to come.”
As part of the extension of his original employment agreement, Bielema received an increase to his annual compensation, which is paid through a combination of non-taxpayer funds generated by the athletic department and private gift support from the Razorback Foundation. Under the terms of the new arrangement, Coach Bielema’s compensation will be $4.0 million in 2015 with $100,000 increases in each subsequent year.
His average annual compensation in the new six-year deal will be $4.25 million. Additionally, Bielema will now be eligible for athletic and academic achievement incentives totaling up to $1 million per year.
“Every day since we arrived in Fayetteville, we have worked with our coaches and student-athletes on building something special here at the University of Arkansas,” Bielema said. “We have assembled another great staff and recruiting class to help us continue to move forward in the SEC West. My wife and I love Arkansas and the tremendous support the Razorbacks receive throughout the entire state. We are also appreciative of the unwavering support of Chancellor (Dave) Gearhart, Jeff Long and the entire Razorback nation as we all work together to give Arkansas something it has never had in the most competitive conference in the nation.”
Entering his third season as the Razorbacks’ head coach in 2015, Bielema has quickly turned Arkansas into one of the nation’s most improved teams. Focusing on a balanced offense, strong defense and all-around discipline, Arkansas finished the 2014 season with a 7-6 record, including a 31-7 victory over Texas in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl. It was the Razorbacks’ first winning season since 2011.
In 2014, Arkansas’ balanced rushing attack produced the only pair of 1,000-yard rushers in the nation. Jonathan Williams ranked fourth in the SEC with 1,190 yards and Alex Collins finished fifth in the league, rushing for 1,100 yards. Quarterback Brandon Allen, a two-year starter under Bielema, enters his senior season with 34 career touchdown passes, sixth-most in school history.
The Razorbacks had the SEC’s most improved defense last season, holding opponents to only 19.2 points per game on average after allowing 32.3 points per game in 2013. The 11.9 point improvement ranked seventh nationally.
The Razorbacks became the first unranked team in college football history to shut out back-to-back ranked opponents after blanking No. 20 LSU and No. 8 Ole Miss.
Bielema has also guided the program to a new level of discipline on and off the field. The Arkansas football program had a program-record 32 student-athletes named to the SEC All-Academic team for the Fall 2014 semester. The team also posted its highest grade point average ever for the fall semester in 2014.