BSU coach Petersen 'humbled' by new contract

February 23, 2007 

Boise State joined the big boys of college football in yet another way Thursday — committing almost $5 million over five years to coach Chris Petersen.

The State Board of Education unanimously approved the new contract Thursday.

Petersen will make at least $850,000 per year for a total of $4.25 million. The contract also includes $500,000 in longevity bonuses, several lucrative performance bonuses and a structure for win-based raises that could push his salary over $1 million as soon as 2008.

Petersen still isn’t the highest-paid coach in the WAC (that’s Fresno State’s Pat Hill at $1.2 million). The national average was $950,000 in 2006.

Just five years ago, then-BSU coach Dan Hawkins made $157,500.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s amazing. It’s embarrassing in some ways,” Petersen said. “It is what the market is paying out there. I really am humbled and just appreciative of this whole thing.”

The contract gives Petersen a 70 percent raise over the $500,000 base salary he made in 2006, his first year as a head coach. He made $666,666 including bonuses and would have made $575,000 in 2007 under the old contract. Petersen did not request the raise or flirt with job offers. BSU president Bob Kustra and athletic director Gene Bleymaier offered to renegotiate in December after Petersen led the Broncos to a 12-0 record and berth in the Fiesta Bowl.

Petersen’s stock climbed even higher when the Broncos beat Oklahoma 43-42 in the Fiesta Bowl and he was named the Bear Bryant national coach of the year.

“What we see here is a substantial increase in his compensation, but given what he’s accomplished it’s ultimately a very reasonable contract,” board member Rod Lewis said. “…It’s not often you get to approve a contract for the national coach of the year.”

Petersen’s salary will be paid mostly by revenue from the Football Coaches Club, the Bronco Athletic Association booster club and media and public appearances. State-appropriated funds will cover $150,000 per year.

Petersen actually could have picked up a larger raise. Instead, BSU will put another $50,000 per year into the assistant coaches’ salary pool. That money is in addition to the 20 percent raisepreviously approved by Bleymaier. “These guys were more than generous,” Petersen said. “The big thing was, I wanted to make sure the assistants were taken care of as well as they could be.”

In other sports-related board decisions:

• The board approved a five-year contract for new Idaho football coach Robb Akey, who will make $240,001.60 per year.

The contract includes a $1 million buyout if Akey wants to leave Idaho before Jan. 2, 2009.

“I have to admire this guy being hired by the University of Idaho,” board member and BSU booster Milford Terrell said. “You put a tremendous incentive for very few people to come after him. I have to congratulate your coach for accepting that.”

• The board approved a three-year contract for new Idaho State football coach John Zamberlin. He will make $120,000 per year.

• The board gave Boise State permission to sell $28.7 million worth of bonds to fund construction of the luxury suites/club seats/press box addition to Bronco Stadium. That was the final approval step for the project, which broke ground last week.

• The board gave Idaho permission to use $1.6 million in federal grant money to make plans to address facility shortcomings, including potential construction of an events pavilion. Idaho will release more details on its Web site today (

• The board gave Idaho permission to seek a bid to replace the outdated football field in the Kibbie Dome.

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