BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – LSU head football coach Les Miles signed a contract extension yesterday to keep him at the university through 2012, apparently ending speculation that he might leave for a job at the University of Michigan.
“I’m thrilled to be here. I’m thrilled to be LSU’s head coach. I’m thrilled to be on the campus,” Miles told the LSU Board of Supervisors before signing the deal. “I look forward to many years as the LSU head coach.”
The deal was approved yesterday by the LSU board’s athletic committee, but needs the approval of the full board, which meets Friday. That vote is considered a formality.
The contract doesn’t change Miles’s salary, which already will rise to at least $2.8 million annually based on LSU’s Southeastern Conference championship this year. An SEC championship win requires Miles’ salary to be at least the third highest in the conference.
If LSU wins the national championship, the contract provides Miles would become among the nation’s top-earning college football coaches.
University officials estimate that would put his annual earnings somewhere between $3.2 million and $3.5 million.
LSU (11-2) faces Ohio State (11-1) in the BCS national championship game Jan. 7 at the Louisiana Superdome.
Also remaining unchanged is the $1.25 million penalty Miles must pay LSU if he leaves for Michigan, a contract clause that college football fans became well acquainted with after Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr announced his retirement in November.
Just before his team played Tennessee in the SEC championship game Dec. 1, Miles effectively stopped predictions he would bolt Baton Rouge for Michigan, announcing his intention to remain at LSU.
Miles wouldn’t talk about the speculation that had dogged him for the past weeks about a return to Michigan, where he played, worked as an assistant coach and met his wife.
LSU officials praised Miles’s coaching, his straightforwardness and his integrity.
“He told the people in this room he wasn’t going to Michigan, and he never was. He never leveraged it,” LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman said.
During his three years at LSU, Miles has amassed impressive statistics that set records at the university.
His overall record of 33-6 is the best three-year span in LSU history, and his 14 wins over teams ranked in the top 25 is a school record, Bertman said.
Miles also deflected concerns about the distractions the uproar over his tenure at LSU may have caused, saying he and his team were focused on the championship game.
“I can promise you we’re at the task at hand,” he said.
The contract extension signed Thursday added a series of financial incentive clauses to recognize players’ academic achievements. If players hit certain academic benchmarks, Miles is given a pool of $150,000 to $250,000 to disburse to his coaching staff.
Also, the contract termination clause was changed. If LSU fires Miles without cause, the coach could be owed as much as $15 million, up from $10 million.