Hoosiers reward football coach with new 6-year contract

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana athletic director Fred Glass liked the direction coach Kevin Wilson took the football program over the past five seasons.

So he's giving Wilson a chance to finish the job.

Less than two months after the Hoosiers ended an eight-year bowl drought, Wilson signed a six-year contract that will pay him $15.3 million. It replaces the final two years on the deal Wilson originally signed after the 2010 season and will keep him in Bloomington through the 2021 season.

There had been growing speculation about Wilson's future late last season after Indiana looked like it would miss out on the postseason again following losses to the Big Ten's two division champions, Michigan State and Iowa, last year's national champion, Ohio State, and conference contender Michigan.

But as concerns grew among the fan base, Glass became increasingly optimistic about where Indiana was going. Winning the final two conference games on the road to become bowl-eligible only cemented his decision.

"I will tell you after we played so well against those four top-10 or close to top-10 teams, I won't say we arrived but we were so competitive against those prominent teams that if those last two games hadn't gone the way they did, we might have ended up in the same place we are today (with Wilson)," Glass told The Associated Press.

Wilson's less-than-stellar 20-41 record and 8-32 mark in league play wasn't a deterrent, either.

When Glass hired Wilson, he said he would be patient with this team, noting it would take years for the Hoosiers to complete a major rebuilding project.

Under Wilson, the Hoosiers have made steady progress. They went from one win in 2011 to 6-7 mark last season with three of the four losses to the ranked teams coming in either the final minutes of regulation or overtime. Indiana also lost in overtime to Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl.

In addition, Wilson has beaten Purdue three straight times — the Hoosiers' longest winning streak in the rivalry since the 1940s — and he's had three players declare early for the NFL draft over the past two years.

That was enough to convince Glass that Wilson needed a longer deal to avoid the negativity about Wilson's future that could be used against him on the recruiting trail.

"I think it was important to do that for that reason and also to reinforce our commitment to Kevin and our commitment to football," Glass said. "I think it represents another significant investment in improving Indiana football."

Glass said the only reason the announcement didn't come sooner was because Wilson was busy with bowl preparations and recruiting. He said both men wanted to complete the deal before Monday night's national championship game.

Wilson already has signed two highly-touted junior college transfers, including quarterback Richard Lagow of Plano, Texas, and he already has commitments from at least 10 high school players.

But with a new contract, upgraded football facilities and renewed hope in the program, Indiana believes Wilson can continue to raise the profile of Indiana football nationally.

"Coupled with an already solid foundation, this ensures stability as we continue to build a winning program in the Big Ten East," Wilson said in a statement. "The administration has shown a total commitment to our program development, continuity, staffing, recruiting and facilities, and has invested heavily in the development of and experience for our students. We are excited for the opportunity and embrace the challenge ahead."

Michigan's Jim Harbaugh is the only other Big Ten coach signed through the 2021 season, Glass said, and Wilson is looking forward to the opportunity.

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