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Strong gets 7-year contract at Louisville

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LOUSIVILLE, Ky. (AP)

The University of Louisville has agreed to new seven-year contract with football coach Charlie Strong.

Strong is in his second season at Louisville and his current contract ran through the 2015 season. The new deal increases Strong's base salary from $1.6 million to $2.3 million.

''The University of Louisville is the place I want to be, and most importantly, is where my family wants to be,'' Strong said in a statement released before Tuesday's practice.

He called the new contract ''very humbling.'' He said he very appreciative of the opportunity Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich gave him the opportunity to become a head coach after 27 years as an assistant. He won two national championships in his seven seasons as Florida's defensive coordinator before joining the Cardinals.

Strong led Louisville to its first bowl game in three years - a 31-28 win over Southern Mississippi in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl - in his first season. Strong was named co-Big East coach of the year in 2010.

Jurich said in a statement Tuesday that he likes direction the program is going and that Strong's work ethic and passion has impressed him.

The AD said Strong's new contract would be backdated to July 1, carrying the new contract through June 30, 2018.

Strong's original contract signed Dec. 9, 2009 included a retention bonus of $1.25 million and a $1 million annuity starting at age 65 should Strong still be the Louisville coach on June 30, 2015. Those provisions remain and additional retention bonuses of $1 million in 2016 and $200,000 in 2017 and 2018 were added if Strong remains the coach on June 30 of those years.

A sliding buyout remains in Strong's contract but has been boosted. The maximum buyout was previously $1 million and has been raised to $2.5 million should Strong terminate the contract before June 30, 2012. The minimum buyout jumps to $1 million from $200,000 if Strong were to leave in the last two years of the contract.

Achievement bonuses remain from the previous contract for bowl appearances, conference championships, Top 10 and 25 finishes, coach of the year honors, and BCS bowl games. Incentives related to the academic performance of his teams also remain.

Senior defensive end Greg Scruggs said the new contract shows Strong is here to stay if another school comes calling for his coach.

''This is what Coach Strong wants to build up,'' Scruggs said. ''It's not like this is a stop-and-go for anything. Coach Strong wants to make this his empire. Coach Strong wants his mark to be on this university.''

Tagged: Louisville

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