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J. Thomas McNamara

    At today’s (Thursday, Jan. 21st) virtual University of Illinois board of trustees meeting, the trustees signed off on a six-year, $26.7 million contract for new football coach Bret Bielema.
    The terms of the deal call for Bielema to be paid $4.2 million in Year 1 and adds $100,000 annually through the 2026 football season, when he’d make $4.7 million.
    “It will be difficult to find a coach with a more impressive pedigree than Bret Bielema,” UI Chancellor Robert Jones said, adding that the hire came as a result of a “brief, but I might add, very intensive search by Athletic Director Josh Whitman.”
    According to a summary of the contract given to trustees, Bielema is also eligible for retention bonuses and performance incentives.     Among them:
    —If Bielema is still coaching Illinois on July 1, 2023, he’d make another $300,000. If he remains coach through July 1, 2025, he’d get another $300,000.
    According to the terms of the deal, the retention bonuses would be supplemented by “a formulaic ‘adjustment amount’ based on regular season victories during the two-year period immediately preceding each of the retention compensation payment dates.”
    Bielema will also be eligible for unspecified annual performance incentives based on goals set by Whitman.
    “Goals will derive from athletic and academic achievements, including conference championships, post-season appearances, conference and national coaching awards, increases in game attendance and team academic performance,” the contract states.
    —The maximum amount Bielema could make annually through incentives is $1.5 million.
    —The terms of the contract also include “moving expenses, use of courtesy vehicles and/or a vehicle stipend, a country club membership, tickets for admission to DIA sporting events and standard benefits with contributions.”
    The terms are “consistent with similar provisions for prior head football coaches at the University of Illinois and are customary within the industry,” the contract states.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune. 

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