UT System Board of Regents approve five-year contract for Charlie Strong

Garrett Callahan and Madlin Mekelburg

At a specially called meeting Monday morning, the UT System Board of Regents unanimously approved new football head coach Charlie Strong’s five-year contract and authorized President William Powers Jr. to conclude negotiations.

Although Strong had already accepted the position, the board must approve any athletic contracts exceeding $250,000 per year. According to the term sheet provided by the UT System, Strong will be paid a minimum of $5 million annually for a five-season term ending in 2019, with $100,000 increases per year, starting in 2015. 

Strong will be granted bonuses if he meets certain goals, such as meeting team-wide GPA standards. If the team’s average GPA reaches 2.9, 3.0 or 3.1, Strong will receive bonuses in increments of $25,000 every time a new standard is reached.

Strong will also receive bonuses if the team appears in bowl games — they’ll be higher if the team wins — and if he is chosen for prominent coaching awards. 

In addition, the University has agreed to also pay the University of Louisville more than $4 million to buy out the remainder of Strong’s contract as Louisville’s head coach.

The contract also outlines several benefits Strong will receive, including 20 hours worth of flight time and the use of two courtesy cars. 

If Strong is terminated without cause, he will receive the entirety of his annual salary for each year remaining in his contract. 

Rumors spread just over a week ago that Strong would be leaving his post at Louisville to take the recently vacant Texas head coaching position. He informed the Cardinals’ athletic director Tom Jurich of his official decision to leave on Jan. 3, and, two days later, Powers and athletic director Steve Patterson introduced the newest Texas coach at a formal press conference.

Strong comes to Austin with 31 years of coaching experience. He spent the last four years as head coach at Louisville, where he led the Cardinals to a 37-15 record and won back-to-back bowls games during the last two seasons. In 2013, Strong’s Louisville team led the nation in total defense, rushing defense, fewest turnovers and fewest first downs allowed.

The 53-year-old now becomes the first black coach in a men’s sport at UT and is the 29th head coach of the Texas football program.

Strong’s hire was publicly criticized by prominent booster Red McCombs — who has donated more than $100 million to the University — on the day of the announcement. McCombs later apologized for his negative comments and has since expressed support for Strong. Strong said he will not allow negative comments to impact his efforts as head coach.

“There are going to be statements made,” Strong said. “You can’t worry about that. You just move on. You have a job to do.”

Strong has spent the last week making his own hires and stamping his mark on the Texas coaching staff. Since his arrival, he has hired multiple new coaches, with a focus largely on defense, including hiring a new defensive coordinator, but he has yet to make many moves on the offensive side of the ball. Salaries for many of the assistant coaches will likely exceed the $250,000 threshhold and also require approval from the regents.