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CU Buffs coaching staff receives multi-year contracts under new law

  • Colorado assistant coaches Darrin Chiaverini, right, and Daran Hagan have...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado assistant coaches Darrin Chiaverini, right, and Daran Hagan have new mulit-year contracts with the team.

  • Colorado assistant coach Klayton Adams received a new three-year deal...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado assistant coach Klayton Adams received a new three-year deal on Thursday.



For the first time, Colorado’s entire football coaching staff is under contract.

On Thursday, the CU Board of Regents voted 7-1 to approve the contracts for 20 coaches, including 10 football assistants.

New legislation adopted last year has allowed CU and other state schools to offer contracts to all of its coaches for the first time. Prior to the new legislation, the entire CU campus was limited to six contracts, and all of those were used in the athletic department.

Now, there is no limit on the number of contracts CU can provide. While not every coach on staff will get — or wants — a multi-year contract, many of them now have newfound job security.

“It really puts us at the same competitive level that our peers are at and that’s why we’ve gone through the process that we’ve gone through,” CU athletic director Rick George said. “I think it’s great that we can show our commitment to coaches for a longer period of time.”

For the football program, that now means that the entire staff of assistants is now under contract. Previously, only head coach Mike MacIntyre and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot had contracts, while others were at-will employees.

“It’s a tremendous benefit,” MacIntyre said in having his staff under contract. “I would have taken the job anyway (back in December of 2012), but I had no clue when I took the job I was the only person on the staff that had a contract. That’s a tough deal in our (coaching) world that we live in. It was very hard; it was also harder to get coaches, sometimes harder to keep coaches. I’m very excited about what we’ve done.”

Going forward, CU will work with a basic model that coordinators will get three-year contracts, while other assistants will typically get two-year deals.

Co-offensive coordinators Darrin Chiaverini and Klayton Adams both received three-year contracts. Chiaverini will receive a base salary of $500,000 — up from the $375,000 he made last year. Adams, promoted to co-OC this winter, will receive a base salary of $400,000 — up from the $315,000 he made last year.

Non-coordinator football assistants, except for tight ends coach Gary Bernardi, received two-year contracts. Bernardi has a one-year deal.

The contracts for all the football coaches are set to begin Feb. 15 and will run through Feb. 14 of the expiring year of the deals.

While much of the focus with this new legislation is on football, it has a great impact on the entire athletic department. For the first time, coaches in the Olympic sports now have job security that wasn’t there before.

The list of contracts approved Thursday includes three-year agreements for cross country/track and field head coach Mark Wetmore, skiing head coach Richard Rokos, women’s soccer head coach Danny Sanchez, volleyball coach Jesse Mahoney and women’s golf coach Anne Kelly.

Women’s tennis coach Nicole Kenneally received a one-year contract.

Two-year contracts were given to associate head volleyball coach Lee Maes, associate head soccer coach James Green, associate head lacrosse coach Alex Frank and associate head coach for cross country and track Heather Burroughs.

“It’s really across the board in what we’re doing,” George said. “We want continuity and consistency on our campus and leadership in those roles and being able to provide them those contracts is important.”

Coaches not part of Thursday’s vote — such as assistants in basketball — could get contracts at a later date. George said he didn’t want to work on those deals while coaches were currently in the middle of their seasons.

While the new legislation was signed by Governor John Hickenlooper last March, and went into effect in August, CU took it’s time in getting contracts completed. George said he did not want to rush into drawing up contracts simply because the Buffs could do it.

George and his staff did extensive research into how other schools handled contracts, as far as term length for football assistants and non-revenue sports.

MacIntyre said he was happy for his assistants, but also for his peers in the department in other sports.

“I think it benefits everything,” he said. “It’s a win-win, to me, for all sports for the stability of the programs, and I’m excited about.”

Not everyone was excited about it. Regent Linda Shoemaker cast a dissenting vote on Thursday and wasn’t happy that the regents were given only 48 hours to review 20 contracts. Regent Jack Kroll expressed some of the same concerns.

“I intend to vote against it because of lack of time and concerns of aggregate liability the athletic department is taking on with these term contracts that are generally two or three year contracts,” Shoemaker said. “Half are for football operation and half for other parts of the athletic department. We know all of these contracts are supported by the football revenues. I do believe in the future, we are going to see some kind of decline in our football revenues and that the academic side of the campus is going to have to pick up those potential liabilities. Those are my concerns.”

For the athletic department, however, Thursday’s vote was viewed as a victory.

“I really appreciate the support of our Board of Regents and chancellor Phil DiStefano on this important initiative,” George said.

Contract breakdown

• Below are the contract terms for Colorado’s football assistant coaches:

Coach, Position Term Annual Salary

D.J. Eliot, Def. Coordinator 2 years* $700,000

Darrin Chiaverini, Co-OC/WRs 3 years $500,000

Klayton Adams, Co-OC/OL 3 years $400,000

Gary Bernardi, Tight ends 1 year $311,000

Kurt Roper, Quarterbacks 2 years $300,000

ShaDon Brown, Safeties 2 years $260,000

Ross Els, Linebackers 2 years $250,000

Ashley Ambrose, Cornerbacks 2 years $232,200

Drew Wilson, Strength & Cond. 3 years $220,000

Kwahn Drake, Defensive line 2 years $200,000

Darian Hagan, Running backs 2 years $200,000

* Eliot signed a three-year contract a year ago and he has two years left on that deal

• Below are contracts approved for Colorado head coaches in non-football sports:

Coach, Position Term Annual Salary

Jesse Mahoney, Volleyball 3 years $181,800

Danny Sanchez, Women’s soccer 3 years $170,850

Mark Wetmore, Cross country/track 3 years $135,360

Anne Kelly, Women’s golf 3 years $116,981

Richard Rokos, Skiing 3 years $100,509

Nicole Kenneally, Women’s tennis 1 year $92,955

(Note: All of these coaches also have several performance bonuses written into their contracts)

• Below are contracts approved for Colorado associate head coaches in non-football sports:

Coach, Position Term Annual Salary

Lee Maes, Volleyball 2 years $112,640

James Green, Women’s soccer 2 years $69,482

Alex Frank, Women’s lacrosse 2 years $67,000

Heather Burroughs, Cross country/track 2 years $62,231

Staff writer Elizabeth Hernandez contributed to this report

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or