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Price Is Right At Washington State

Washington State University football coach Mike Price has signed an eight-year contract that will make him one of the highest paid Pacific-10 Conference coaches, athletic director Rick Dickson said Friday.

The lengthy contract, worth an estimated $470,000 a year in salary and outside income, was to reward Price not only for this year's Rose Bowl appearance, but also for graduating all 26 senior players, Dickson said.

"I humbly accept," Price said, thanking players, assistant coaches, fans and alumni for "allowing me to represent you for at least the next eight years."

Dickson said he made his pitch on behalf of Price's raise to WSU president Sam Smith and the Board of Regents prior to the Nov. 22, 1997, Apple Cup game against Washington.

"Now is the time to step up and reward an above-and-beyond performance with an above-and-beyond commitment," Dickson said.

"THIS CONTRACT WILL MARK over a quarter century of what I consider a great partnership for me and Washington State University," said Price, who was a Cougars player in 1965 and later an assistant coach before becoming head coach nine years ago.

Price led the No. 9 Cougars to the Rose Bowl, where they lost to No. 1 Michigan 21-16 and finished with a 10-2 record.

The contract moves Price in line with Paul Hackett of Southern California, Bruce Snyder of Arizona State, Stanford's Tyrone Willingham and Jim Lambright of Washington, all of whom make $450,000 or more a year.

The contract pays Price a base salary of $144,000, up from the current $113,000, a $50,000 annual annuity and about $275,000 in guaranteed outside income. That would include income from speaking engagements, product endorsements and radio and television revenues, Dickson said.

Price's assistant coaches also can expect raises, Dickson said.

THE CONTRACT ALSO INCLUDES A $75,000 buyout clause, should Price leave to take another job elsewhere, Dickson said.

Dickson said the contract was structured to assure Price enough compensation that he wouldn't have to look elsewhere, but would give him the option should a lucrative NFL contract come along.

The contract also contains clauses that will allow Dickson and Price to negotiate for extensions beyond the Dec. 31, 2005, term, both men said.

Price said he and Dickson had hoped to sign the contract prior to the Rose Bowl, but "the Rose Bowl took on such great, unexpected challenges."

The Cougars coach said he "leaned on" sports agent Leigh Steinberg, among others, for advice while negotiating with Dickson.

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