Ducks Reward Helfrich with 5-Year Extention

EUGENE – The University of Oregon has rewarded Oregon native and head football coach Mark Helfrich with a five-year contract extension after guiding the Ducks to the 2015 national championship game.

Since becoming its head coach in 2013, Helfrich has experienced more success in his first two seasons at the Ducks’ helm than any other football coach in school history and has earned more wins than all but one counterpart in the illustrious annals of the prestigious Pac-12 Conference.

The total value of the new contract is for a guaranteed sum of $17.5 million spread over five years for an annual average of $3.5 million. Helfrich will be guaranteed $3.15 million during the 2015 season, with his salary increasing on a sliding scale to a maximum of $3.8 million during the final year of the agreement in 2019-20. Incentives tied to the Ducks’ on-field performance and student-athlete academic success will remain in the contract. The extension runs through January 31, 2020. As like all other University intercollegiate coaches and staff, funding for Helfrich's contract comes solely from Athletic Department funds with the Department receiving no direct institutional support.

"Mark has provided tremendous leadership of our football program and the values and character that he insists upon are in line with our mission as an institution," said Director of Athletics Rob Mullens. "The success of our student-athletes on the field and in the classroom will continue with Mark's leadership and we are thrilled that he will stay at home in Oregon for a long time to come."

The new agreement ensures an automatic one-year rollover for Helfrich for winning a minimum of 11 games in any one year, with one of those victories in one of the New Year’s Six bowl games (consisting of the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Peach, Rose, and Sugar bowls). As part of the new contract, Helfrich must pay the University $3 million should he decide to leave for another coaching position prior to the completion of his second year of the agreement, $2 million upon his departure before the end of year three or four of the agreement, and $1 million should he decide to vacate his head coaching position before the end of his fifth year.

Helfrich, 41, has posted more wins in 28 games as Oregon’s 32nd football coach than any other coach in school history, amassing a 24-4 record since assuming the role prior to the 2013 season. Only California’s Pappy Waldorf (1947-56) has fared better in what is now the Pac-12 Conference, winning 26 of his first 28 games.

Under Helfrich’s leadership, the Ducks advanced to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in only his second season as a head coach, have won two bowl games in as many years – including a 59-20 Rose Bowl triumph over Florida State – and ranks third in the country in total wins among all FBS programs during that same span. Oregon won a school-record 13 games in 2014, after which Helfrich was named one of three finalists for the Maxwell Football Club’s National Coach-of-the-Year Award and was one of eight finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach-of-the-Year Award.

A 1992 graduate of Marshfield (Coos Bay) High School, Helfrich served as a Ducks’ graduate assistant in 1997 before returning to serve as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Chip Kelly in 2009. Helfrich was named by FootballScoop as its National Quarterbacks Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2012 in addition to being one of three finalists for its national offensive coordinator of the year honor.

Over the course of the 13 seasons as an assistant coach prior to joining the head coaching ranks, Helfrich played a role with offenses that have ranked among the nation’s top-eight teams in scoring offense six times, the top six in rushing on four occasions, the elite five in total offense four times as well as the top five in passing twice.

That success continued once he became the first native Oregonian to head the university’s football program since John Warren in 1942. In each of his first two seasons at the helm, the Ducks have finished the year ranked among the nation’s Top 10, including No. 2 in the country this season. In addition, Oregon’s offense has ranked among the top three in the country in total offense (3rd in 2014, 2nd in 2013) and fourth nationally in scoring each of the last two seasons. It also led the country in first downs and turnover margin in 2014.

Born in Medford, Helfrich turned down an opportunity to walk on at Oregon in favor of attending Southern Oregon University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1996. The four-year starting quarterback was an NAIA Scholar-Athlete as a sophomore in 1993, leading the nation in total offense while earning NAIA honorable mention All-America accolades and first-team Columbia Football Association honors. That season, he accumulated single-season school records in passing yards (2,712), total offense (3,196) and touchdown passes (23), topping the 400-yard mark in single-game total offense three times.

He began his coaching career as running backs coach at his alma mater in 1996 before playing and coaching (offensive coordinator) in Europe with the Vienna (Austria) Vikings in the winter of 1997.

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