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UMass Athletic Director Bamford says football coach Mark Whipple will get contract extension

  • Massachusetts head coach Mark Whipple calls out to his players during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017.  AP 

  • UMass football coach, Mark Whipple, runs onto the field with his team at the beginning of a game against Appalachian State at McGuirk Stadium, Saturday, October 28, 2017.  GAZETTE STAFF / CAROLINE O’CONNOR



@MattVautourDHG
Sunday, December 03, 2017

The details won’t be finalized until later this month, but Mark Whipple will be returning as the UMass football coach with a contract extension.

UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford confirmed Saturday night that Whipple, who had one year remaining on his initial five-year deal, would receive an extension. Bamford said he and Whipple would work out the details after recruiting ended in mid-December. Whipple’s current contract pays $472,654 annually, which ranked 109th among the 121 Bowl Subdivision coaches whose salaries are public record.

“He’ll be back and we’ll extend him. We’ll get into conversations with him or his representatives in the next couple of weeks,” Bamford said. “I told him to just focus on getting his class signed. He and his staff are leaving to go on the road (Saturday night).”

Head coaches in high-profile sports rarely ever work in the final year of a contract because it’s hard to lure recruits if there’s uncertainty about the coach’s future. They’re almost always extended or fired. UMass began the 2017 season with six consecutive losses, but won four of its final six games to finish 4-8.

Whipple, who was still frustrated by his team’s loss Saturday, acknowledged both the progress made in the second half of the season and where he hoped the next step would be.

“I’m still dismayed with yesterday’s performance on defense. I thought we’d made some headway. I know we did. We had a milestone win at BYU. We’d been really close. Offensively, we got a lot better, and we’re really young,” he said Sunday. “The last eight weeks of UMass football felt like we were back in the late 1990s or early 2000s as far as the way the kids went about their business and carried themselves with confidence. There’s leadership. We needed more depth and to get over the hump. Now, the goal would be to go to a bowl game next year.”

Whipple said the team’s progress has resonated with potential recruits.

“The response we’ve gotten in recruiting really speaks volumes toward where we’re headed,” he said. “We’ve never even come close to the response we’ve gotten recruiting-wise.”

Whipple is in his second stint with UMass. He led the program to three Division I-AA playoff berths from 1998-2003 and won the 1998 Division I-AA Championship. After stints as an assistant coach in the NFL and the offensive coordinator at the University of Miami, he returned in 2014 to take over a program that had gone 2-20 the previous two seasons under Charley Molnar.

The Minutemen are 12-36 in Whipple’s four seasons as an FBS program. His 61 totals wins at UMass are the most by any coach in program history.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage