Georgia rewarded men‚Äôs basketball coach Mark Fox, who guided the Bulldogs to their first NCAA tournament at-large berth since 2002 this past season, with a one-year contract extension and a $400,000 raise to his annual salary this morning.
Fox‚Äôs deal now extends through the 2015-16 season and will pay him $1.7 million per season.
The executive committee of Georgia‚Äôs Athletic Association board of directors approved the new deal by conference call.
‚ÄúGeorgia has committed to build a basketball program,‚Äù Fox said this afternoon. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs evident now with the support we‚Äôve had in the previous two years and with the action of the board today. I think this just continues to give us momentum and show everyone that we‚Äôre serious about building a program and building it the right way and that process takes time.‚Äù
The boost in salary puts Fox tied for fifth among highest-paid men‚Äôs basketball head coach in the Southeastern Conference. He had been tied for the eighth highest-paid coach in the conference.
‚ÄúThe direction he‚Äôs taken our program and the job he‚Äôs done this year, it was evident that we needed to do a couple of things to basically secure Mark,‚Äù athletic director Greg McGarity said. ‚ÄúThe effort here is to move Mark into the upper half of the SEC.‚Äù
Fox trails Kentucky‚Äôs John Calipari ($3.92 million), Florida‚Äôs Billy Donovan ($3.6 million), Arkansas‚Äô Mike Anderson ($2.2 million) and Alabama‚Äôs Anthony Grant ($1.8 million) in annual compensation.
Fox will earn roughly the same as Vanderbilt‚Äôs Kevin Stallings, who makes $1.7 million, according to USA Today.
‚ÄúMark would probably be the first person to tell you he doesn‚Äôt think he needs to be the highest-paid men‚Äôs basketball coach in this conference,‚Äù McGarity said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs where we need to be. I think Mark knows this is a long journey and we hope he‚Äôs our coach for a long, long time. It‚Äôs probably where we need to be right now.‚Äù
The 42-year old Fox is 158-72 in seven seasons as a head coach, including 35-29 at Georgia.
Fox‚Äôs teams have won at least 20 games in all but one of those seasons including all five years at Nevada.
McGarity was asked why Fox did not receive a contract extension longer than a year.
‚ÄúI think everybody‚Äôs really comfortable with that,‚Äù McGarity said. ‚ÄúYou really want all your staff and coaches on edge a bit. Five years that is a strong commitment. We don‚Äôt get caught up in five years, six years. There‚Äôs not a whole lot of difference in that because if we keep marching in the same direction I‚Äôm sure this won‚Äôt be the last time we come as a group to meet.‚Äù
Fox led Georgia to a 21-12 record this past season in his second year in Athens.
Fox‚Äôs new deal came nearly six weeks after Georgia‚Äôs season came to an end in Charlotte in a tournament loss to Washington.
Fox let McGarity know that his agent had been contacted about other job openings, but McGarity reiterated today ‚Äúthat this is not in reaction to any offer that Mark may or may not have received. ‚Ä¶This is all initiated by us.‚Äù
Said Fox: ‚ÄúHe came to me with the idea of making some changes in my contract and so I appreciated that. Anyone, everyone likes to hear that they‚Äôre doing a good job and so for him to do that certainly made me feel good.‚Äù
Fox‚Äôs buyout terms remain the same. He would have to pay Georgia $2 million if he leaves anytime before the end of the contract.
Georgia had the ninth largest increase in home attendance this past season, increasing by 1,416 fans to 8,250. The Bulldogs had four straight home sellouts for the first time in seven seasons.
‚ÄúMark has been extraordinary and brought a new level of excitement to our basketball fans,‚Äù UGA president Michael Adams said. ‚ÄúHe has done things the right way, and I look forward to more years of his leadership in our basketball program.‚Äù
McGarity said that pay raises for Fox‚Äôs assistant coaches are also possible.