University of Cincinnati extends football coach Luke Fickell's contract through 2026
Cincinnati head football coach Luke Fickell has been rewarded after leading the Bearcats to back-to-back 11-win seasons and compiling the best recruiting class in program history.
The University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract extension for Fickell through 2026.
Fickell was previously under contract through the 2022 season and had been targeted by Michigan State University in February.
"Obviously, I owe a lot of thanks to (UC Director of Athletics) John Cunningham and (President) Dr. (Neville) Pinto and obviously the board and everybody," Fickell told Chad Brendel on ESPN 1530 on Tuesday (Brendel was filling in for Mo Egger). "They had done this a while ago. But with everything, we figured it was better to just wait. It wasn't the most important thing at the time. … But I appreciate what it is that they've done and obviously the confidence they have in us to continue to grow the program."
“Happy and thankful for John Cunningham and President Pinto!” Fickell said in a text to The Enquirer.
The extension pays Fickell $3.4 million a year starting with 2020, according to the new deal. The extension puts Fickell in the top 40 among highest paid college football coaches. Houston's Dana Holgorsen ($3.7 million) is the only Group of Five coach to make more.
"We're very excited to extend one of the best coaches in college football," Cunningham told The Enquirer.
All of the extension is funded through private donations and fundraising, according to Cunningham and the board.
The approval comes after Cunningham and the university announced the Bearcats Ticket Assurance Plan for 2020 football season-ticket holders. The school is asking fans to consider donating all or a portion of their usual ticket and priority-seating investments back to the department. If neither of these options is feasible, the university is asking fans to apply their current payment forward to the 2021 season, according to a letter from Cunningham.
"The irony is not lost on me; that at the same time we are uncomfortable bringing our fans onto the campus, we need their financial support more than ever," Cunningham wrote in the letter. "Unquestionably, the financial burden on our athletics department stemming from a football season without fans will be great. In order to continue to support the student athletes and maintain success, the department needs continued monetary support."
Fickell will be paid a base salary of $250,000 plus additional supplemental compensation payments for Fickell's involvement in television, radio and personal appearances, and private and public speaking engagements, according to the contract.
Fickell's salary may be adjusted downward in the event a season is shortened, canceled or otherwise limited, the contract states.
Fickell’s $2.3 million pay last year rose from $2 million the previous year. Those figures were set when UC hired him in December 2016.
Fickell is 26-13 in three seasons at the helm.
Cincinnati is scheduled to open its fourth season with Fickell as coach against Austin Peay on Sept. 19 at Nippert Stadium. That game will be played without fans, Cunningham announced Monday.