Mark Stoops agrees in principle to contract extension

Contract to be Extended Through June 2028, Features Amended Terms

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Mark Stoops, who has coached the University of Kentucky football team to one of the most successful eras in school history, has agreed in principle to a contract extension with amended terms, UK Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart announced Tuesday.

The contract will run through June 2028 and continues guaranteed extensions for any season with seven wins (one-year extension) or 10 wins (two-year extension).  The agreement takes into account the Wildcats’ current 9-3 campaign, which already had earned a one-year extension through June 2027, regardless of the outcome of UK’s upcoming bowl game.

The contract has been agreed upon and is in the process of getting signatures. The amended terms will be confirmed upon completion of the contract.

“We have been in discussion with Coach Stoops in recent weeks and are excited about his ongoing commitment to Kentucky,” Barnhart said. “Coach Stoops has done an outstanding job in building the UK football program and we look forward to continued success under his leadership.”

“Our football and athletics programs have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to success for our students — on the field and in the classroom,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “Our football program, under Coach Stoops, has only strengthened the commitment that we have as an institution to putting students first in everything that we do. We are preparing our students for lives of meaning and purpose when they leave UK, no matter what path they take.”

“I’m excited to continue to build this program to national prominence,” Stoops said.  “We’re on our way and I’m more confident in Kentucky football than I’ve ever been.

“I thank President Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart for their support.  The continuity among us for the last nine years is extremely valuable and I’m looking forward to more success together.

“Mitch and I came to an agreement a week or two ago and shook hands on it Saturday afternoon. This process is a compliment to our relationship.”

Stoops told WTVQ ABC 36 Sports two weeks ago he was content at Kentucky and had no plans to leave. But his name continued to pop up as being among the leading candidates from a variety of jobs ranging from Florida and LSU to Southern California and now Notre Dame. The contract extension will put a lot of that discussion among pundits and arm-chair quarterbacks to rest.

Stoops’ first season at Kentucky was 2013.  Taking over a team that had gone 2-10 the season prior to his arrival, Stoops methodically built the program by equaling or surpassing the previous year’s record for six consecutive seasons.

Stoops earned his first bowl game in 2016, when the Wildcats overcame an 0-2 start to go 7-3 down the stretch and advance to the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.  UK duplicated seven wins in 2017, playing in the Franklin-American Mortgage Music City Bowl.

Led by linebacker Josh Allen, the National Defensive Player of the Year, and Benny Snell Jr., the school’s all-time leading rusher, the 2018 squad went 10-3.  It was UK’s best season in 41 years, topped by a win over Penn State in the VRBO Citrus Bowl. It was only the third 10-win season in school history.UK was No. 11 in the final USA Today coaches’ poll and No. 12 in the final Associated Press tabulation, the school’s first appearance in the final rankings since 1984.

CollegeFootballNews.com listed Stoops as the best coaching performance of the season and he was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year by The Associated Press, Athlon Sports and the league coaches.

The 2019 season was one of the most unusual in school history.  A succession of injuries decimated the quarterbacks and Stoops turned to wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. to man the QB position.  Running the ball almost exclusively, UK went 6-2 down the stretch and closed the season with four straight wins, including a dramatic come-from-behind Belk Bowl win over Virginia Tech.

The Wildcats advanced to the Gator Bowl in 2020, claiming a victory over North Carolina State.  Kentucky’s 2021 bowl opponent will be announced Sunday.

Stoops’ players also have had success in the classroom and in community service.  Wildcats have earned Academic All-America honors six times during his term and six players are on the current national ballot for the award.

In addition, six of Stoops’ Wildcats have been named to the Allstate National Good Works Team for community service, including Kenneth Horsey on this year’s squad.  In 2017, Courtney Love won the Danny Wuerffel Trophy as the Football Bowl Subdivision player that best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.  In 2018, C.J. Conrad received the Pop Warner Award, a national honor given to a senior who has made a difference on the field, in the classroom and in his community.

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