Regents reward UNLV’s Hauck with contract extension, pay raise

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Sam Morris

Bobby Hauck led the UNLV football team all the way to the Heart of Dallas Bowl this past season—the first time the team played in a bowl game since 2000.

Nevada’s higher education leaders today approved a $200,000 raise for UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck.

Regents on a 10-3 vote approved a three-year contract extension with Hauck. Regents Andrea Anderson, Ron Knecht and Rick Trachok opposed the extension.

Hauck, who was paid a $500,000 annual salary, will be paid $700,000 a year, according to the contract extension. Including all deferred compensation, the life of the proposed contract would cost $2.25 million to $2.55 million.

Hauck’s base salary increased by $100,000 to $250,000 a year, his media appearance fee increased by $75,000 to $225,000 a year and his public appearance fee increased by $175,000 to $225,000 a year. Hauck also will receive a one-time payment of $150,000, which was deferred compensation from last year.

Hauck’s new $700,000 annual salary is the eighth highest in the 12-school Mountain West Conference. His former $500,000 annual salary was the lowest in the conference.

“I think this is a fair contract for everyone involved,” Hauck said after the vote. “We’re excited about the future of UNLV football.”

UNLV Athletic Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy and other athletics officials pointed to Hauck’s most recent 7-6 season as justification for the salary extension and raise. Hauck in his fourth season ended UNLV’s 13-year bowl drought and the Rebels posted their first winning record at home and on the road in nearly three decades.

Hauck’s overall record since he took over UNLV’s program in 2009 is 12-37. He came to UNLV from the University of Montana, where he had success on the gridiron.

Knecht said given Hauck’s overall record, he couldn’t support a $200,000 salary increase. Knecht said he wanted to end the “arms race in college athletics” of paying football coaches ever-increasing salaries.

“Somebody has to step back and say this thing is out of control,” Knecht said. “(Coaches’) compensation has gone up much faster than incomes of Nevadans. That’s an indication of a broken model. Someone has to do something to stop it.”

Trachok pointed to the $2.7 million deficit for the UNLV athletics department, saying taxpayers can’t afford Hauck’s salary increase. “We need to enter into this contract as if we were spending our own money,” he said.

Other regents, though, said Hauck’s higher salary is the “cost of doing business” to build a winning program.

“Maybe we’re being a little generous, but I thought about some of the other factors that were occurring,” Regent Robert Blakely said. “We’re in the process of trying to build a stadium. Having a successful football team is the biggest linchpin. Giving the football coach more of an incentive probably isn’t a bad plan.”

“I’m not enamored with the contract either,” Regent Michael Wixom said. “But I don’t want to jeopardize the momentum (Hauck) has created. If we reject the contract, I’m afraid it will do immense harm.”

Regents directed Chancellor Dan Klaich to form a committee to look at best practices in contract negotiations with athletic coaches. However, Regent Allison Stephens said she wanted to see fair-market value and adequate compensation for coaches.

“I just fundamentally disagree that our role in fiscal management means that we have to nickle and dime and negotiate down people working in our institutions,” she said.

Some in the public, who came to support Hauck’s contract renewal, agreed.

A $200,000 annual salary increase “is peanuts in the long run,” Rich Abajian, general manager for Findlay Toyota’s board of governors, told regents. “Football is the program that can pull you out of budget problems. … You’ve got to pay money to make money.”

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