College Football: Luke Fickell’s new contract approved by University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees

Luke Fickell has received a two-year contract extension from the University of Cincinnati.

The board of trustees approved the update to his deal, which now runs through 2028 and includes a raise of $1.6 million for the upcoming season.

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Fickell is set to make $5 million this season.

Last year, 21 college football coaches made that much or more according to USA Today while Fickell’s $3.4 million earnings ranked 45th.

“I’m truly honored to be the head coach of the University of Cincinnati and excited to keep working with our phenomenal student-athletes and administration to continue to develop our program,” Fickell said in a statement. “Now, it’s time to get to work!”

Fickell, a Columbus native and former Ohio State player and coach, is 48-15 as head coach at UC.

He could become the school’s all-time leader in coaching wins this season with six and has excelled at upgrading the Bearcats’ recruiting with a greater emphasis on pulling in players from Southwest Ohio and the surrounding areas.

Last season, he took the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff, where they lost in the semifinals to Alabama.

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In addition to raising Fickell’s pay, the university agreed to increase his salary pool for assistants to $5.2 million.

“We share Coach Fickell’s vision to grow the program,” UC athletic director John Cunningham said. “This new contract ensures that we are united and committed to enhancing our university and continuing to impact the lives of student-athletes’ core missions of our athletic department.”

He added that the moves should further prepare the Bearcats to move up from the American Athletic Conference to the Big 12, which is set to occur no later than 2024.

“This is also a major step towards making sure we will be ‘Day One Ready’ and prepared to compete for championships when we join the Big 12 conference.”

Last year, the only Big 12 coaches to make more than $5 million were Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma ($7.8 million), Gary Patterson of TCU ($6.1 million) and Steve Sarkisian of Texas ($5.4 million), though Riley has since left to become head coach at USC and Patterson resigned in the middle of the season.

Oklahoma and Texas are set to leave the conference for the SEC, likely before the Bearcats join.

“I appreciate the support of the leadership at the University of Cincinnati, including John Cunningham and (university president) Neville Pinto, as well as the board of trustees, our fans and our whole university and Cincinnati community,” Fickell said. “John and President Pinto share my vision for how we want to grow this program and take it to the next level, and that’s by investing in people — not just the head coach — and providing the necessary resources to prepare student-athletes to be at their best on and off the field.”

Fickell has frequently been the target of other schools with job openings, but UC has increased his pay from $1.9 million his first season to $3.2 million by 2020.

Four of his first six full-year recruiting classes have ranked in the 40s nationally while his 2023 class is off to a strong start with five commitments, including four-star linebacker Trevor Carter of Ironton and three-stars Jackson McGohan of Miamisburg and Evan Tengesdahl of Wayne.

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