Utes Whittingham Earns Extension

NEW ORLEANS - (AP) Utah coach Kyle Whittingham signed a five-year contract extension worth $6 million on Monday, a reward for leading the Utes to a perfect regular season and BCS bid.

No. 7 Utah (12-0) is the only major college unbeaten team heading into Friday night's Sugar Bowl game against No. 4 Alabama.

"I am very, very happy at the University of Utah," said Whittingham, who was promoted from defensive coordinator four years ago when Urban Meyer left for Florida. "It's been a great run, 15 years now. That's unique in this profession. It's not often that a coach gets to stay in one place for that period of time.

"I'm excited about the direction the program's heading. I think we've really got some momentum going."

The deal includes a $200,000 base salary with the rest of the money coming from things such as radio and television rights and appearance and public speaking fees.

Whittingham, who made $681,000 this year, was the Mountain West Conference coach of the year and a finalist for several national coach of the year honors. He has gone 36-14 in four years as Utah's head coach, including a 3-0 record in bowls.

"We have a strong commitment to Kyle and Kyle has a strong commitment to us," athletic director Chris Hill said. "We think it's a great indicator of where our program is right now, but more important to me is the direction we're headed.

"I couldn't be happier, nor could the president of the university, with what Kyle has done over the past four years. We've built our program the right way."

Hill said he spoke to Whittingham about a new contract before the season's end.

Whittingham was Utah's defensive coordinator from 1995-2004 before replacing Meyer. The team's record has improved in each of his four seasons since going 7-5 in 2005.

Hill said the deal has a buyout in case Whittingham takes another job or is fired. He would not disclose details.

"I always make the quote: There's only two kinds of coaches: Ones that everybody wants and ones that nobody wants," he said. "I'm glad that we've got coaches that people want."

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