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WVU, Holgorsen no longer discussing new contract

AP photo
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen

MORGANTOWN — Contract negotiations between West Virginia University and football coach Dana Holgorsen have ended.

Before Saturday’s basketball game at the Coliseum, WVU athletic director Shane Lyons confirmed it to the Gazette-Mail.

“There will be no change in Dana’s contract at this time,” Lyons said. “We’ll now turn our attention to the 2016 season and hope to continue the momentum from the Cactus Bowl win and successful signing day.”

Back in December, Holgorsen’s job status was in question. On Dec. 7, Lyons said he had “no comment” when asked the status of the coach. The second-year AD issued a statement two days later that Holgorsen would indeed return, citing that “continuity is best for our program.” 

Lyons said previously negotiations needed to bring the two sides to an agreement on additional years and guaranteed money for those new seasons. Those discussions never a reached a suitable conclusion.

WVU has also made no moves to further secure its coaching staff. The university responded to an open records request last week that sought contracts for assistant coaches. No assistants have been granted extensions. Multiple sources said that was a major factor in cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell leaving last week to take a job at Virginia Tech.

Mitchell had one year at $275,000 remaining on a two-year contract. His status, though, is in line with how Lyons wants to treat staffing.

“That’s going to be my philosophy,” Lyons said. “Coordinators are multi-year and assistants are year-to-year. If you look at the national trend, that is very consistent.”

Four assistants will work the final season of a two-year deal in 2016. None of their contracts were initiated by Lyons, who has been on the job for a little more than one year. One assistant was hired and one was re-hired last month, and both signed one-year contracts to cover them for 2016. Mitchell’s successor will likely receive the same arrangement.

Only defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, who had his 2017 salary guaranteed in December, and offensive coordinator Joe Wickline, who was hired last month on a two-year contract, have salaries guaranteed for 2017.

Contracts for Gibson and Wickline include a clause that states if they are let go after 2016 WVU will pay them only if they do not take another coaching job or if their new salary is less than what they were to be paid at WVU. If their new salary is lower, WVU will pay the difference.

Holgorsen is also covered through the 2017 season with a salary of $2.9 million per season. If he is fired, he’s due his remaining salary.

Holgorsen, 44, is 36-28 (.562 winning percentage) in five seasons as WVU’s head coach. He has coached the Mountaineers to four winning seasons and four bowl games (2-2), and finishes of fifth, seventh, fourth and fifth since the program joined the Big 12.

WVU finished 8-5 in 2015, including wins in five of its last six games. The Mountaineers defeated Arizona State 43-42 in the Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2.

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