Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold in line for pay raise

Kansas head football coach Lance Leipold's contract has been restructured to increase his pay to more than $40 through 2029. The new deal also increases the pool of money for hiring assistant coaches and support staff.



February 29, 2024 - 1:13 PM

On Sept. 1, 2023, Kansas head coach Lance Leipold cheers on his team against Missouri State in the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas. Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images/TNS

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas football coach Lance Leipold signed an amended contract Wednesday that increased his overall compensation to more than $40 million through the 2029 season while giving him a sizeable pool of money for hiring assistants and support staff.

The contract does not extend his previous deal, but it does feature a substantial bump in salary from the $5 million Leipold made last season, when he led the long-suffering Jayhawks to a 9-4 record and a victory in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

Leipold is 17-21 over three seasons at Kansas. His back-to-back bowl berths have been its first since the 2007 and ’08 seasons.

“Since Lance and his staff arrived in Lawrence, our program has seen exponential growth in every facet both on and off the field,” Kansas athletic director Travis Goff said in a statement. “Every aspect of our program is on an unprecedented positive trajectory, and we are eager to continue this prodigious build with Lance.”

Goff and Leipold planned to discuss the amended contract at a news conference Thursday.

The contract includes a pool of $6 million for assistant coaches that increases by $200,000 per year, and a $2.9 million pool for other football staff that increases by $100,000 annually. That additional money could help Leipold in the future retain coaches such as offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki, who left for the same job at Penn State.

“We are incredibly proud of what our football program has accomplished over the first three seasons in Lawrence,” Leipold said, “and look forward to the continued challenge of bringing a consistent winner and championship home.”

Leipold inherited a program whose last winning season came in 2008, before Mark Mangino was fired and the school churned through four coaches. The Jayhawks were winless under Les Miles the season before Leipold’s arrival, and his relatively late hiring — he took over after spring football — forced him to piece together a competitive team in a matter of months.

The Jayhawks wound up winning two games his first season, but with a full recruiting cycle and offseason, that total bumped to six wins and a trip to the Liberty Bowl in 2022. Then came last season, when the Jayhawks spent time in the AP Top 25, upset No. 6 Oklahoma and wound up beating UNLV for their first bowl win in 15 years.

Leipold was linked to several openings this past offseason, including Washington, but ultimately decided to stay at Kansas, where Goff and the rest of the school administration have begun to invest heavily in the Jayhawks’ football program.

After this past season, the school razed Memorial Stadium and began construction on a new stadium that will serve as the centerpiece of a nearly $450 million multipurpose district on the edge of campus. The school also upgraded its locker room, weight room and training spaces in the nearby Anderson Family Football Complex.

The Jayhawks could compete for the Big 12 championship next season, when perennial heavyweights Texas and Oklahoma are gone for the Southeastern Conference and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah arrive to take their place.

Their top quarterback, Jalon Daniels, is expected to be back after missing most of last season with a back injury, along with star running back Devin Neal and wide receivers Lawrence Arnold and Luke Grimm. Their defense got a big boost when first-team All-Big 12 cornerback Cobee Bryant announced he would return alongside veteran defensive back Mello Dotson.

The Jayhawks open the season Aug. 29 against Lindenwood. Due to the stadium construction, that will be the first of two games they will play at Children’s Mercy Park, the home of MLS club Sporting Kansas City. Their four Big 12 home games will be played across the state line at Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs.