Luke Fickell contract: Cincinnati coach grabs Power Five-level extension at $5 million annually, per reports

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell has agreed to a contract extension that will make him one of the highest-paid coaches in the Group of Five, according to multiple reports.  

The extension will reportedly pay Fickell $5 million per year through 2028, a massive raise from his previous contract that paid him $3.4 million through 2026. Pending approval from UC’s board of trustees on Feb. 22, the deal will also increase his assistant salary pool from $3.9 million to $5.2 million. 

Fickell’s deal gives him the highest reported base salary among all Group of Five coaches, passing the $4.2 million deal Dana Holgorsen signed with Houston. But Holgorsen recently agreed to a contract extension of his own, and while numbers have not been publicly reported, a new salary could also push $5 million. 

Cincinnati has reached new heights since Fickell took over the program in 2017 from Tommy Tuberville. Following a transitional 4-8 debut, Fickell has led the program to a 44-7 record over the past four seasons with back-to-back AAC Championships. The Bearcats became the first ever Group of Five squad to reach the College Football Playoff in 2021. 

The Bearcats are one of three AAC teams set to join the Big 12 Conference with a move expected by 2023. Houston and UCF join BYU as new additions to the power conference as well. 

Building long term

When Cincinnati hired Fickell, the program had not earned a national ranking since Butch Jones was head coach in 2012. The Bearcats had just one top-10 finish in program history — 2009 — and it was impressive enough to earn Brian Kelly the Notre Dame job. 

Fickell has brought unmatched consistency to the program, which has enjoyed four straight ranked finishes in the AP Top 25 and back-to-back AAC titles. Keeping…

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