USC adds 2 years to Spurrier's contract

ashain@thestate.comDecember 13, 2011 

Trying to keep the momentum from the school’s best-ever back-to-back football seasons, South Carolina agreed Tuesday to extend coach Steve Spurrier’s contract by two years.

The deal should help the school with recruits, who will see that Spurrier is under contract through 2015, USC president Harris Pastides said.

“On top of that, he’s done well,” Pastides said. “Each year is a little bit better than the year before. ... We are heartened that he feels ambitious enough to stay here longer.”

Spurrier did not get a raise. The deal extends for two seasons what he is supposed to make in 2013 under his current agreement — $2.95 million. Spurrier received a $1 million a year pay boost last season after South Carolina won its first SEC Eastern Division title. He did not ask for a contract extension at the time, though USC athletics director Eric Hyman said he would have granted it.

Spurrier requested the extension after leading the Gamecocks to their second 10-win season despite losing starting quarterback Stephen Garcia and star running back Marcus Lattimore. USC could break its season-victory mark by beating Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2. Spurrier will turn 70 at the end of his contract.

“He’s re-energized and the result of that energy has been seen in the progress of the program,” Hyman said. “Look at all the firsts we’ve had at USC and look at the potential — that’s exciting. Everything is coming together.”

Spurrier is credited with turning around the football program. He has gone 54-35 in seven seasons in Columbia. In going 10-2 this year, USC won six games in the SEC and swept its five Eastern Division opponents for the first time. The Gamecocks also beat Clemson for a third consecutive season — a first in 41 years.

Spurrier is second in all-time coaching wins at South Carolina and needs 11 more to top Rex Enright’s school career mark.

“I appreciate the administration agreeing that the head coach should have four years remaining on his contract to show the recruits and fans that he plans to be here,” Spurrier said in a statement released through the school. “Winning the SEC is one goal we have not yet reached. We hope and believe we can do that in the next four years.”

In extending Spurrier’s contract, Pastides said the school considered the team’s improving NCAA Academic Progress Rate that charts how well the program is helping players graduate. The football team’s APR score has risen to 954 in 2009-10, the latest year available, from an SEC-worst 913 in Spurrier’s first season at USC.

“You look at what (coaches) bring to the university, what they bring to graduation, to academics, to the spirit, but it’s also about winning and, when you get paid as much as coaches do, you need look at the composite,” Pastides said. “And right now, we think the football program has all pointing in the right direction.”

Spurrier is receiving $2.55 million this year. He will get $2.88 million in 2012 and $2.95 million in 2013, 2014 and 2015. All but $257,000 of Spurrier’s salary comes from contracts that the athletics department has with broadcasters, athletics apparel makers and commercial endorsers. He also is receiving a one-time, $1 million tax-deferred retirement plan at the end of the year, and he will get a $100,000 bonus for making the Capital One Bowl.

Spurrier’s salary has more than doubled since he earned $1.25 million in his first season. Compensation for his assistants also has mushroomed by $1.1 million collectively. Their pay stands at $2.35 million from $1.24 million in 2005.

The school will look at assistant salaries after the season.

Assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson, whose defense propelled the Gamecocks this season, has been mentioned in searches for a head coach at Southern Mississippi and a defensive coordinator at Auburn. Johnson, who will turn 60 next week, earns $700,000 a year, making him the nation’s fifth-highest paid assistant coach, according to data compiled by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The USC Board of Trustees doubled Johnson’s salary in early 2010 after Tennessee approached him about becoming the Volunteers’ defensive coordinator. His contract ends after the 2013 season.

Since Spurrier arrived, the USC athletics department has spent nearly $60 million on improvements to aid recruiting and lure donations for the football program.

Projects include a new academic center, new suites and decor at Williams-Brice Stadium, revamped weight and locker rooms, and a 3,000-spot gameday parking lot at the former State Farmers Market site.

An additional $16 million has been earmarked for renovated practice fields and a new indoor practice facility. The school is developing plans to transform the parking lots around the stadium into a $4.4 million brick-lined pedestrian plaza. The projects are paid for with donations and bonds covered by revenue from the athletics department.

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