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Lance Leipold signs long-term contract to remain KU football coach

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The University of Kansas has its football coach for the foreseeable future.

Lance Leipold, who in his second season at the helm of the Jayhawk program led the team to its first bowl game appearance since 2008, has signed a new deal that will keep him in Lawrence through 2029 — and at a significantly increased salary of $5 million per year.

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Leipold also received a $750,000 signing bonus as part of the deal. The full contract can be viewed below.

Leipold’s initial deal at KU, a six-year contract that was increased an additional year at the start of this football season, paid him in the neighborhood of $2.75 million annually.

“We are thrilled that Coach Leipold will be leading our football program for years to come. Since joining us in Lawrence, Coach Leipold has confirmed that he is among the nation’s best coaches, program builders and leaders, and he is clearly equipped to succeed in the new world of college athletics,” KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said in a Kansas Athletics news release Tuesday. “Additionally, Coach Leipold has shown tremendous commitment to the university and the community beyond football, and he recognizes the special role his team can play in our academic mission, student recruitment and alumni engagement. For all these reasons, he is exactly the right fit for KU, and we look forward to seeing him in Crimson and Blue in the years ahead.”

The new contract will pay Leipold a base salary of $500,000 for his services as coach, and a “professional services payment” of $4.5 million annually. That payment is broken down into a $3.9 million “multimedia” payment for “educational, public relations and promotional duties” and a “royalty” payment of $600,000 for licensing Leipold’s name, image and likeness.

Leipold will essentially receive a $100,000 raise each year through the “multimedia” payment, according to the contract.

The new deal also pays handsomely for assistant coaches and football staff, setting aside $7.5 million — $5 million for coaches and $2.5 million for staff — for those positions. That amount will increase by $100,000 for coaches and $100,000 for staff each contract year, according to the agreement.

Leipold’s buyout — the amount another school would have to pay KU if it hired him — also increased significantly. If Leipold leaves on or before April 30, 2023, for example, KU would be owed $12.5 million. If he were to leave on or before April 30, 2024, KU would be owed $6 million, a figure that then decreases by $1 million for each contract year.

If KU were to fire Leipold without cause, it would owe him 80% of the remaining base salary, professional services, and royalty payments. The whole contract is worth nearly $33 million over the course of seven years.

The contract also contains clauses that allow Leipold to essentially void the contract for $0 if renovations don’t meaningfully begin on both David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and the Anderson Family Football Complex practice facility during 2023. The stadium renovations must begin by December 2023 and the practice facility renovations by July 1, 2023 or the clauses take effect.

As part of the contract, Leipold and his family also receive two top-of-the-line vehicles, travel to all football games outside Lawrence, and a $125,000 yearly flight membership for Leipold to use at his discretion.

KU Athletics Director Travis Goff said Tuesday that in the 19 months since Leipold came to KU, it has been clear he is the right fit to lead the program — which before his arrival had lost more than 100 games in 13 years.

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“In short order, Lance and his family have engrained themselves in the Lawrence community and have made an impact that extends far beyond the football program, to the broader University and Lawrence communities,” Goff said in the news release. “This new contract, along with the upcoming investment in our facilities, are a direct reflection of our profound commitment to building a first-class football program – one that will be a point of pride for all Jayhawks for years to come.”

As for Leipold himself, he said in the release that he and his wife, Kelly, are thrilled to be a part of KU and the Lawrence community for years to come.

“We have said from the start how happy we are here, and that we plan on being here for a very long time. Since the moment we arrived, we have been welcomed and accepted by the Lawrence and KU communities, and we are very grateful,” Leipold said. “We are very proud of the progress the program has made over the last 18 months and even more excited about what the future holds as we continue to build a program that will make Jayhawk fans everywhere proud.”

The Jayhawks concluded their regular season Saturday with a loss to rival Kansas State and finished with a 6-6 record — the program’s best since 2008. They will learn Saturday who they play in a bowl game to conclude the season.

Fully-Executed-Leipold-Contract-Nov-2022_Redacted

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Conner Mitchell (he/him), reporter, can be reached at cmitchell (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-435-9264. If you have sensitive information to send Conner, please email connermitchell (at) protonmail (dot) com. Read more of his work for the Times here.

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