MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia reached a contract extension with Dana Holgorsen, signing the coach through 2021 with a package worth $18.6 million before incentives.
Holgorsen’s 2017 salary will climb to $3.5 million, a bump from the $2.9 million he was slated to earn under his previous deal. By the final year of the extension, Holgorsen would receive $4 million.
As MetroNews reported, the extension includes a buyout clause, unlike Holgorsen’s fully-guaranteed original contract that was negotiated by former AD Oliver Luck.
“Dana and I have always had a good, open dialogue, and we want this program to succeed at the highest level,” said athletics director Shane Lyons. “I am pleased and happy that he wants to continue to lead the Mountaineer football program. Part of my job is to give him the resources to succeed, and we will continue to work together closely to bring the very best to West Virginia football.”
A source familiar with the situation told MetroNews this week Holgorsen never expressed interest in the Houston vacancy, unwilling to leave West Virginia for a Group of 5 program even had the Cougars ponied up a slightly higher salary. The source said no representatives from Houston had formally contacted Holgorsen, nor had other schools with vacancies, such as LSU or Oregon.
The No. 16 Mountaineers defeated Baylor 24-21 on Saturday, closing a regular season that began with Holgorsen on the hot seat.
The coach declined an extension offer last spring, unwilling to risk the $2.9 million guaranteed him in 2017 for a new deal that included a buyout. That decision preceded two assistants departing for more secure positions at ACC schools — cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell leaving for Virginia Tech and Lonnie Galloway becoming offensive coordinator at Louisville.
Recruiting sources said Holgorsen’s job uncertainty became an obstacle for many prospects last summer, potentially hurting the 2017 class which Rivals currently ranks 51st nationally. (If it holds, that would mark West Virginia’s lowest-rated class since 2006.) With momentum picking up after the season’s 6-0 start, the Mountaineers have 15 commitments and are making late pushes for several key recruits.
Holgorsen said the extension “will help in recruiting” as coaches fan out during the next week.
“We’ve been working on it for quite a while,” Holgorsen said. “You guys probably made a bigger deal than I did. I put my head down and I give our coaching staff credit because they put their head down. They weren’t worried about it and I wasn’t worried about it. I’ve been excited about the future for a while.”
With West Virginia likely bound for the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28, Holgorsen owns a six-year record of 46-30 overall and 22-23 in Big 12 games.
Should the school fire Holgorsen during the 2017 season, it would owe him more than $11 million. During the 2018 season, the buyout drops to around $8.1 million. Should he be dismissed during the final three years of the contract, WVU would owe him up to $6.9 million.
If Holgorsen leaves for another job, he would owe West Virginia between $1 million and $3 million depending on his departure date.