Virginia football coach Al Groh, who has guided his alma mater to three consecutive bowl games, received a new six-year contract yesterday that more than doubled his annual compensation and made him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football.
The deal, which Groh signed earlier this month and was announced by the school yesterday, increases his annual compensation to $1.7 million. The contract, which took effect immediately and runs through the 2010 season, makes him the third-highest paid coach in the ACC, behind Florida State's Bobby Bowden ($2.5 million annually) and Miami's Larry Coker ($1.9 million).
The school said in a statement that Groh's deal includes a base salary of $240,000 and $1.46 million annual compensation for services that include fundraising responsibilities, radio and television appearances, and product endorsements. Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage said the contract also includes performance bonuses tied to bowl games, the ACC championship game and final rankings. The deal also rolls over each year after Dec. 31, 2010, meaning Groh, 61, could finish his coaching career with the Cavaliers.
"I signed the contract, didn't I?" Groh said, when asked yesterday whether he wanted to spend the rest of his career at Virginia. "I think that should be pretty self-apparent."
Groh, who is 30-21 in four seasons with the Cavaliers, hired his oldest son, Mike, as an assistant coach and another son, Matthew, is beginning law school at Virginia this year. A 1967 graduate of Virginia, Groh played defensive end at the school from 1963 to 1965. Much of his family still lives near Charlottesville, and his father is buried there.
"Obviously, all the Grohs are quite pleased about this," Groh said. "This is where we want to coach, this is the team we want to coach, and this is where we want to live."
Littlepage and President John T. Casteen III obviously want Groh to remain the school's football coach, too. They more than doubled his annual compensation -- Groh signed a seven-year contract that paid him $765,000 annually when he left the NFL's New York Jets after the 2000 season to replace George Welsh as the Cavaliers' coach. Littlepage said factors contributing to his decision to give Groh such a lofty raise included increased attendance, improved win-loss record and an increase in apparel sales during Groh's tenure.
"We believe we have a coach with a unique set of credentials," Littlepage said. "This contract reflects the market for top 20 and top 25 coaches nationally."
Groh's new contract could make Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver's job a lot more difficult because Hokies Coach Frank Beamer's contract expires Jan. 1. Beamer, who is 135-77-2 in 18 seasons at his alma mater, makes about $1.3 million annually. Virginia Tech, the defending ACC champion, has beaten rival Virginia seven times in the last 10 meetings, including three of four against teams coached by Groh.