published Thursday, February 20th, 2014

UTC extends Russ Huesman contract through 2018

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman comments on the signees to his program during a news conference in the McKenzie Arena media room in this file photo.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman comments on the signees to his program during a news conference in the McKenzie Arena media room in this file photo.
Photo by Tim Barber.

Russ Huesman has agreed to a three-year contract extension that would keep him as the head coach for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team through the 2018 season, the university announced Wednesday.

Huesman's new contract, which runs through Feb. 28, 2019, will raise his annual pay to $205,738, with a $15,000 annual compensation raise from one he received in late June.

Huesman will receive a $5,000 bonus for reaching the NCAA Academic Progress Rate benchmark of 925; winning the Southern Conference or going to the playoffs; and winning Coach of the Year. There are also additional bonus incentives for advancing in the playoffs, and the assistant coaches will receive bonuses for advancing in the playoffs as well.

The buyout in the new contract states that if Huesman is terminated without cause, he is owed his base pay times the number of years remaining in the contract, with a "liquidated damages clause" in place. Should Huesman leave after the 2015 season, he would owe the university 75 percent of his pay. That percentage drops to 50 percent after the 2016 season and 25 percent after the 2017 season.

"We're excited to do it," UTC athletic director David Blackburn said Wednesday. "We felt like Russ has done such a good job, and he has us going in the right direction; not just with the community, but with the players and the alumni. He's proven that he's great for the program, and we definitely want to be competitive in the marketplace."

The former UTC safety led the Mocs to an 8-4 record during the 2013 season, which signified the most wins since the 1980 season. They claimed a share of the Southern Conference championship for the first time since 1984, and did it primarily based on the strength of their defense, which ranked first in the conference in both points allowed (20.4) and yards allowed (328.9). Those helped Huesman -- 32-24 in his five seasons -- earn his second SoCon Coach of the Year honor, an award he also received in 2009, his first with the program.

During Huesman's time, the Mocs have raised their Academic Progress Rate to 963, which is well above the NCAA minimum of 930. All-American defensive lineman Davis Tull became the program's first Academic All-American in 2013.

"I appreciate David Blackburn, as well as Dr. [Steve] Angle for the opportunity to extend my contract," Huesman said Wednesday. "The biggest thing is that I love this place -- the university and the program -- and I plan on being here a long time. This is about the time where a university decides they're going to add onto a contract, or let them ride it out -- I'm just thankful they feel like I do a good enough job to be here for a long time."

UTC was nationally-ranked for several weeks and finished 23th in the final coaches poll and 21st in The Sports Network Poll. A drop-off is unexpected, as the coaching staff recently signed a recruiting class ranked first by 247Sports.com.

Spring practice begins March 2nd, while the spring game will be held on Friday, April 11.

"There's a lot more work to do, but I'm excited about it," Huesman said. "Hopefully they extended because they feel like we're headed in the right direction and doing things right on and off the field, and I'm just glad to be a part of it."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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