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UB, football coach Lance Leipold agree on five-year deal

Lance Leipold doesn’t regard a new contract extension solely as a reward for the recent success he’s had as head coach of the University at Buffalo football team.

UB announced Tuesday that Leipold received a contract extension that will run through December of 2023.

As the Bulls prepare for the 2019 season, Leipold sees the commitment he received from UB as part of a foundation for the program.

“It’s the opportunity to continue to build and transform a program into what everybody, I believe, really wants us to be,” Leipold said Tuesday at a press conference in UB’s Murchie Family Football Center. “You walk these hallways, you come in this room, you look outside at the stadium, you see changes coming. We have more that we want to accomplish here.”

UB announced Leipold’s extension less than seven weeks after the end of UB’s 10-4 season. Leipold led the Bulls to a school-record 10 victories last season and a MAC East Division title, but the Bulls lost in the MAC championship game and the Dollar General Bowl.

“The end of the season didn’t end the way we wanted it to, said Leipold, who is 23-27 in four seasons at UB. “You look back at it, as a head coach, and some of the things that you do, I know next year we have the opportunity to play as many games, and there’ll be adjustments that we make as we go along. As we continue, we all look to get better, and it always starts at the top.”

UB announced Leipold’s contract extension about 13 months after he signed a five-year contract that was effective January 1, 2018, and ran through Dec. 31, 2022.

UB Athletic Director Mark Alnutt told the News that discussions for a contract extension for Leipold began during the season and that the terms of Leipold’s new contract were finalized mid-January.

“Collectively, between having conversations with him and doing an evaluation of the program, from what I’ve known about it before I got here, and what the program has done this year, it came to a point in time that this was something I wanted to do and the (UB) president (Dr. Satish K. Tripathi) wanted to do,” Alnutt said.

“But it was during the regular season and we were going towards the MAC championship game and the bowl game. We had conversations, and it picked up more after the bowl game. With recruiting in the fold, we determined that this is a good time to be able to release this.”

Under the terms of the new contract extension, obtained by the News, Leipold will earn a base salary of $465,000 and additional compensation of $150,000. Leipold originally made a base salary of $250,000 and received additional compensation of $205,500 under the previous terms of his contract, obtained by the News through a Freedom of Information Act.

Leipold’s total salary of $615,000 would make him the third-highest paid coach in the MAC. According to a USA Today coaches salary database published in December, Toledo’s Jason Candle earns $1.125 million annually, and Western Michigan’s Tim Lester makes $800,000 annually. First-year Northern Illinois coach Thomas Hammock will earn a base salary of $500,000 annually with $100,000 available for donor engagement compensation, and first-year Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain will earn $590,000 annually.

The new contract terms also contain more financial incentives for Leipold, as well as a buyout clause.

Leipold will also receive bonuses on a sliding scale for a minimum, non-cumulative number of regular-season wins. The incentives include $10,000 for an 8-win season, and rises $5,000 for every subsequent victory with 12 wins garnering $30,000.

He will also earn a bonus of at least $5,000 and up to $20,000 if UB meets certain Multi-Year Academic Progress Rate (APR) thresholds.

Leipold’s postseason bonuses have also increased. He will receive $35,000 for winning the MAC championship, $25,000 for participating in a non-College Football Playoff bowl game, $35,000 for winning a non-CFP bowl game, $15,000 for being named MAC coach of the year and $30,000 for being named national coach of the year.

He will also earn $50,000 if UB plays in a New Year’s Six bowl game, and $50,000 if UB wins a New Year’s Six game.

Leipold’s previous contract stated he would receive $25,000 for winning the MAC championship, $15,000 for playing in a non-CFP bowl game, $20,000 for winning a non-CFP bowl game, $10,000 for being named MAC coach of the year and $25,000 for being named national coach of the year. Leipold was the 2018 MAC coach of the year.

“That was my intent, to be able to reward Lance, from a base pay standpoint but also additional pay,” Alnutt said. “I wanted that contract to be market-driven in the MAC. This puts him in top four in the MAC from a pay standpoint. But you also want to be able to reward, whether it’s on the field and in the classroom.”

The terms of Leipold’s new contract also include a buyout clause. Should Leipold terminate the contract in or after the first year, he would owe UB $1 million. The cost goes down from there, as he would owe $850,000 in Year 2, $600,000 in Year 3, and $450,000 in years four and five.

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