Yes Bearcat fans, there is a Santa Clause and he came early to the University of Cincinnati on Monday. Brian Kelly signed a new five-year contract that will likely keep him as the head man at the University of Cincinnati until the end of the 2012 season.
After much talk of Kelly being one of the hottest coaches in the college ranks with several programs eyeing him, the University of Cincinnati headed by Director of Athletics Mike Thomas and President Nancy Zimpher rallied the Bearcat Nation to find the support needed to make Kelly and his team of coaches the highest paid in Cincinnati's long storied football history.
The new deal will pay Kelly a guaranteed salary between $1.2-$1.35 million over the next five years as well as performance-based incentives. Not only does the deal give Kelly a substantial raise it also provides money for his coaching staff to keep them in line with other staffs in the Big East.
Kelly who has pushed for an on-campus indoor facility and practice fields put his money where his mouth is by giving $50,000 to start the funding. As part of his commitment in building the Bearcats program into one capable of playing for a National Championship, Kelly has given his own money to other football related projects.
The Bearcats head coach also made it a point to donate another $50,000 to cancer research at the University of Cincinnati to help fight against breast cancer, a disease which Kelly's wife, Paqui, has been battling.
The University of Cincinnati stepped up to the plate by agreeing to a new buyout clause in Kelly's contract tied to the University securing an on-campus indoor facility and practice fields in the next two years to be used by all University of Cincinnati's athletics teams.
This partnership between coach and university provides many positives for the football program long-term. Not only do Kelly and his staff stay in line with the economic environment of "Big Time" college football, but also places the university in front of the public to make sure another upgrade to the athletic program is achieved.
Stephon Ball who is being recruited by Cincinnati had the following to say about the news of Coach Kelly's new contract. Ball, who will make his college choice known this week is looking at Louisville and Cincinnati to continue his football career.
"I know this is really important to Cincinnati and its future. This makes a statement they are committed to winning by trying to keep Coach Kelly at Cincinnati."
Kelly who earned Big East Conference Coach of the Year honors for his team's 9-3 record is getting his team ready to take on the University of Southern Mississippi in the Papajohns.com Bowl on December 22 in Birmingham, Alabama. A victory would give the Bearcats only their second 10-win campaign in school history.