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January 12, 2007 > Sports > Graham strikes deal in contract extension

Graham strikes deal in contract extension

Last Tuesday, head football coach Todd Graham’s contract was revised to last through the 2012 season. While it is technically a contract extension, the deal only lengthens Graham’s original deal by six months. The financial parameters were not disclosed, although Athletic Director Chris Del Conte confirmed that the new deal is more financially lucrative .

“As you’re being successful, no matter what coach it is, you want to go back and make sure they … want to be part of your program and that all parties are happy,” he said. “Any time you have a coach that comes in and revitalizes a program, gets in a position where we feel good about the process — it was a no-brainer to renegotiate the contract.”

The deal also provides a sense of stability to both Graham and his staff. In the notoriously tumultuous world of college football, they now have reprieve from worrying about another revamping of the football offices for at least another six years. That being said, it is unwise to assume that all of the staff members, Graham included, plan on spending the rest of their careers at Rice. In recent days, offensive coordinator Major Applewhite was the subject of many rumors linking him to job offers at the University of Alabama until the Razorbacks hired former Miami head coach Nick Saban as their new head football coach. Del Conte indicated that while there is no way of knowing with certainty, Applewhite is most likely staying at Rice.

“Applewhite is a football coach at Rice University,” Del Conte said. “This time of year there are always rumors — it’s a coaching convention, it’s what happens. I have not been contacted; there’s been no contact by anyone at Alabama.”

Football is not an isolated example. Del Conte said he looks to have a similar policy with all of Rice athletics.

“We’re bringing in people that are here to compete at the highest level, and if they move the needle from empty to half a tank, then [good for] them,” he said. “If they come here and we have complacency for 10-15 years. … They’re not advancing the cause of this institution.”

To many followers of Rice athletics, this comment looks like a direct attack on men’s basketball coach Willis Wilson. Del Conte indicated this is not the case, saying he blames substandard facilities for many of the basketball team’s inconsistencies.

“Autry Court is probably the worst facility in the country,” he said. “You have to do some major repairs to have the same expectation that you do for the new science building on campus [or] the new physics building.”

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