UK Extends Mumme's Contract

Leading Kentucky to bowl eligibility for a second straight season earned coach Hal Mumme a two-year contract extension Friday.

The board of directors of the school's athletic association voted to extend Mumme's $800,000-a-year contract through the end of 2005, replacing a deal that paid Mumme the same salary but would have expired at the end of 2003.

The move "represented a very strong commitment on the university of how pleased we are with the job that he and his staff have done, and at the same time represents a very strong commitment on his part that he is going to be here," Kentucky athletic director C.M. Newton said Friday evening.

The board's vote came hours before Kentucky was to face No. 7 Tennessee in the Wildcats' final regular-season game. At 6-4, Kentucky is one of eight bowl-eligible Southeastern Conference teams in the running for seven guaranteed spots.

If the Wildcats receive a bid, it will the first time since 1983-84 that they have gone to consecutive bowls.

Last year's 7-4 team, led by quarterback Tim Couch, lost to Penn State in the Outback Bowl. It was the first New Year's Day bowl appearance by Kentucky in 47 years.

After losing Couch and star wideout Craig Yeast to the NFL, as well as the entire 1998 starting offensive line, expectations were lower this year. However, after losing their opener to Louisville 56-28 the Wildcats regrouped and qualified for postseason play with a win last weekend at Vanderbilt.

Mumme has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the head job at LSU, where Gerry DiNardo was fired earlier this week, but has said repeatedly he plans to stay at Kentucky.

Newton said he was not aware of Mumme being contacted about other jobs.

"I'm sure if these people who've got jobs open have any sense they'd contact him," he said.

Asked whether a two-year extension without a raise offered any real guarantee Mumme would stay, Newton said, "I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, but contractually he is protected and contractually he has made a commitment to be here. ...

"We frontloaded Hal last year with dollars and we felt like that (raise) could and probably will come in the future."

Among SEC coaches, Mumme's pay trails only that of Florida's Steve Spurrier and Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer.

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