The long-term future of Colorado State athletics looks to be intact. Just three days after the removal of athletic director Jack Graham, the University announced Monday that is has signed three of the department’s four major athletics coaches to multi-year contract extensions.
Head football coach Jim McElwain, women’s basketball coach Ryun Williams, and volleyball coach Tom Hilbert will all be at the school until at least 2018-19, barring a major buyout by from the school or one of the coaches. Head men’s basketball coach Larry Eustachy was signed to a similar extension last fall.
McElwain, Rams finalize five-year extension through 2019
After leading the Rams to their first bowl win in five years last season and their most wins in any season since 2002, McElwain was rumored to be a candidate for the open Louisville head coaching job last spring, but chose to return to Fort Collins for his third year with the Rams. In his initial contract signed in 2011, McElwain earned a base salary of $1.35 million with a $150,000 bonus if his team reached an Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 930. The APR is a measure of a program’s academic success with a perfect scoring totaling 1000.
Under his new contract, McElwain’s base salary has been bumped to $1.5 million per year with the same bonus structure. The deal runs through 2018 and has the option for five one-year extensions that can be exercised by either McElwain or the athletic department. Any bonuses are contingent upon the program having no major NCAA violations. The biggest change however, comes with a substantial increase in the buyout of McElwain’s contract, should he decide to leave CSU before his contract expires. Initially, the buyout begins at $7.5 million and includes possible buyouts of another $7.5 million or more as long as he has five or more years left on his contract. If McElwain should leave at any time with five or more years left on his contract, the buyout amount could reach as high as $15 million.
In a statement released by the University, McElwain reiterated his appreciation for the department’s confidence in him and his vision for the football program.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to be the head football coach at Colorado State University, and I appreciate that Dr. Frank has trusted us, our family, our coaches to take this program and keep growing it,” McElwain said. “My family and I sincerely appreciate the way the people of Fort Collins and the state of Colorado, and all of the great Rams fans, have welcomed us and made this home for us.”
Winningest coach in CSU history finds “final resting place”
With the extension of Hilbert, Colorado State will hold on to the winningest coach in program history for at least five more years. Hired in May 1997 by former AD Tom Jurich, Hilbert has led the Rams to 17 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, 13 conference regular-season titles, and amassed more than 430 victories. He is one of just ten coaches in Division I women’s volleyball history with more than 600 career wins and at least a .770 winning percentage.
Under his new deal, Hilbert will earn a base salary of $200,000, up nearly 25 percent from the $154,000 he earned last season. He remains the highest-paid volleyball coach in the Mountain West by a substantial amount and is now one of the top-10 highest-paid coaches nationally.
“We have an administration that is serious about taking Colorado State to the next level, and people who believe that volleyball is a major part of what we’re doing here within athletics,” Hilbert said. “President Tony Frank and the senior administration are committed to the sport of volleyball and our entire athletics program, and that’s a great environment to work in.”
Hilbert will also have a buyout clause in his contract, which begins at $1 million this season.
“Tom Hilbert and the women’s volleyball program have set the standard for Colorado State athletics, interim athletic director John Morris said. “Tom has shown a commitment to this university, and we want to reward him for the sustained excellence he has fostered on the court, in the classroom, and in the community, and help him take the program to the next level.”
Rams look to continue recent momentum, lock up Williams till at least 2019
Following their winningest season in more than a decade, the Colorado State women’s basketball program locked up head coach Ryun Williams in an attempt to continue the momentum built over the past two seasons.
Williams, the 2013 Mountain West Coach of the Year, will earn a base salary of $215,000 annually, with five similar one-year extensions after the completion of the initial contract. The contract also includes bonuses for each of the following: Mountain West championship ($25,000), NCAA tournament appearance ($30,000), Sweet 16 appearance ($30,000), Final Four appearance ($30,000), and national championship ($50,000).
“I am humbled and honored to receive this new contract,” Williams said. “Colorado State University is a place my family and I believe in very much and want to be for a long time. I want to thank President Tony Frank for his faith and commitment in what we are building here. There is still much more work to be done, but there is no better place to believe in and serve than Colorado State.”
Williams’ new contract also includes a buyout beginning at $1.075 million with future amount determined by the number of years remaining on his contract multiplied by his base salary.
Collegian Sports Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @kpopecollegian.