Excited about where he thinks the Kentucky football program is going, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart opted to give the head coach a contract extension and raise.
Citing recruiting success and increased attendance figures, Barnhart extended Mark Stoops' agreement through the 2018 season, giving the coach five years left on his deal.
"We had the nation's second-largest increase in attendance last season and we have had the two largest spring-game attendances in school history," Barnhart said in a release sent out by UK to announce the extension. "In recruiting, Mark and his tireless assistant coaches have made an obvious impact with their first two classes and that momentum is carrying forward for 2015."
The release didn't detail exact figures, and a new contract has not been made available yet, but a UK spokesman said the deal will pay Stoops $2.5 million in 2017-18 and $2.65 million in 2018-19.
Since the hiring of Stoops, who went 2-10 in his first season, UK has begun a $110 million renovations at Commonwealth Stadium and a privately funded $45 million football complex nearby.
UK averaged 59,472 in attendance last season. The increase of nearly 10,000 from the previous season was the second largest in the nation.
The two Blue-White spring games under Stoops have drawn crowds of more than 50,000 and 35,000, the largest in school history.
According to the USA Today salaries data base, the increase to $2.5 million in 2017-18 would still put Stoops at the bottom of the Southeastern Conference in salary behind Dan Mullen's $2.65 million at Mississippi State.
Butch Jones (Tennessee), Will Muschamp (Florida) and Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) all reportedly make $3 million a year. The salary for Vanderbilt's Derek Mason is not made public.
For comparisons, Bobby Petrino's new deal with Louisville was for seven years and $24.5 million ($3.5 million per season).
Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.