If commitment can be measured in dollars and cents, it appears CSU athletic director Paul Kowalczyk is extremely confident in his latest hire.
Kowalczyk announced Thursday that newly-named football coach Steve Fairchild will make $700,000 per year over his five-year contract, an increase of nearly $150,000 from the salary of former coach Sonny Lubick..
Lubick, who was fired following the Rams’ 3-9 season, was paid $530,000 per year.
Fairchild’s contract ranks third-highest in the Mountain West Conference, trailing only TCU’s Gary Patterson ($952,000) and San Diego State’s Chuck Long ($701, 500).
“This is an investment in the future,” Kowalczyk said during a press conference Thursday in which Fairchild addressed media via telephone. “(Fairchild) is definitely the right man for the job.”
Half of Fairchild’s yearly salary is guaranteed, with the other half coming from promotions and media obligations.
Also written into his contract are several incentive-based bonuses, including a $100,000 bonus if the team reaches a BCS bowl.
Fairchild would also receive incentives based on his team’s record, MWC coach of the year honors and non-BCS bowl appearances.
“We’ve tried to lay out some incentives to get to where we want to be,” Kowalczyk said. “I want to pay out this money.”
Kowalczyk said the goal is for CSU football to be a consistent competitor in the MWC, a yearly bowl game contender and eventually to compete for a BCS bid – a lofty proposition considering only Utah in 2004 has reached a BCS game.
Fairchild said the challenging expectations are “a good thing.”
“It’s a big job, but if you don’t raise the bar high then you’re just going through the motions,” Fairchild said. “You can compete (at CSU) year-to-year, there’s no question.”
Kowalczyk also said that the salary pool for assistant coaches will increase by $300,000 from where it was this season, making it more than $1 total.
When asked how the department, whose total budget is lowest among MWC schools, plans to come up with the extra money, Kowalczyk said, “As always, we’ll figure that out.”
He admitted that boosters will need to step up donations to ensure the program’s success and that the University could be asked to further finance the department, though that is not something Kowalczyk plans on doing.
“We need the support of the boosters and the community to get this program where it needs to go,” Fairchild said.
Bill Schaffter, a Ram Club member and booster since 1975, said he believes a significant increase in donations is necessary to get CSU football to the level Kowalczyk wants it to go.
“It’s time for boosters to step up,” Schaffter said. “It’s going to take money. If you’re not going to lead, you’ve got to get out the way.”