It’s the second extension in as many years for Stoops, who has helped lead the Wildcats to a 5-3 record going into this weekend’s game at Missouri and has established the UK program as one of the top recruiting teams in the nation.
“I greatly appreciate the support shown for our program by President (Eli) Capilouto, the University administration and Mitch Barnhart,” Stoops said. “I am more excited than ever about the future of Kentucky football and the challenge and opportunity of building this program for our players and the Big Blue Nation.”
The new agreement will pay Stoops $21.45 million and extends the term from June 30, 2019, to June 30, 2020. He was making $2.3 million in 2014 prior to the new deal, but will now make $2.6 million for this season. The UK boss will receive $3.85 million in the final year of the deal, plus incentives for wins beyond bowl eligibility and academic progress.
“Mark is guiding our program in the direction we all want it to go and we are proud to reward that,” Barnhart said in a release issued by UK. “I was confident Mark was right for this job when I hired him, but he has exceeded my expectations. From leading a group of young men, to recruiting, to fundraising, to becoming an important part of the Lexington community, Mark has embraced and excelled in all facets of being Kentucky football head coach.”
“Under Coach Stoops’ leadership, the UK football program is experiencing an incredible upward trajectory in the classroom and on the field,” Capilouto said. “That continued progress, led by Coach Stoops, is critical in competing in the nation’s strongest conference while maintaining one of a small number of self-sustaining athletic programs in the nation – one that supports the University’s academic mission in dynamic ways, including $65 million to support the construction of a new Academic Science Building.
"As important, Coach Stoops and his staff put students first in everything they do. The facility improvements underway in our football program will support the athletic and academic success of our students and the long-term health of the program.”
In addition to the win-loss record, progress is obvious on both offense and defense. UK is averaging 31.6 points per game, well ahead of the 17.9 points per game average in 2012, the season before Stoops arrived. Defensively, the Cats are allowing 24.8 points per game, down from 31 points per game in 2012.
“I am excited about the progress our team has shown on the field, but this is as much about the next five years as it is the last one and a half,” Barnhart said. “As I’ve said before, I believe we can compete at the highest level in the toughest conference. Mark is the coach to take us there.”
Kentucky is currently rated No. 20 in Scout's national team recruiting rankings coming off last year's unprecedented No. 21 class.