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FOOTBALL: Weis signs contract extension

Mike Gilloon | Monday, October 31, 2005

Notre Dame extended the contract of first-year football coach Charlie Weis Saturday through the year 2015. Financial terms of the deal were not released.

Weis, who spoke at a press conference Sunday, believes the extension will eliminate rumors of his leaving for the NFL. It will also enable him to coach the Irish until his son, Charlie, a seventh grader, has graduated from Notre Dame.

“This allows me to become a permanent fixture [at Notre Dame] while at the same time erasing any doubts of my intent,” Weis said, “which was clearly stated the day I walked in the door.

“When I first came here … when I was offered this job and we made the family decision to take this job, we were doing it on a permanent basis, not on a quick fix or to buy some time to go somewhere else.”

The announcement came during a bye week for the Irish football team so it wouldn’t cause a distraction, Weis said.

Rumors, mainly on internet message boards, had been circulating for the past several weeks that Weis could be making a move back to the NFL, where he most recently was offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.

But with the new contract, Weis squashed suspicion he would be heading for professional football and hopes the news keeps recruits from wondering about the future of the Notre Dame coaching situation.

“We no longer have to worry about [my future] being a distraction [in recruiting],” Weis said. “I don’t want to be a distraction, and yesterday I eliminated myself from being a distraction.”

Notre Dame Athletic Director Kevin White has come under criticism from the media and fans for contract issues in the past since he was appointed to his current position on March 13, 2000.

Former Irish coach Bob Davie signed a five-year contract extension on Dec. 5, 2000, after his squad was invited to play in the Fiesta Bowl. He was fired one year later on Dec. 2, 2001 following a 5-6 season and a 35-25 mark during five seasons as coach.

The University fired Tyrone Willingham on Nov. 30, 2004 after three seasons on the job in the middle of a six-year deal. Willingham was the first football coach in school history to be fired without fulfilling the length of his original contract. White and the administration were criticized for firing the first black head coach ever at Notre Dame halfway through his original deal.

Weis originally inked a six-year contract. The new deal restructures the next five years and adds another five on top of it – meaning the 10-year contract begins next season.

ESPN.com reported the contract to be worth anywhere from $30-40 million over 10 years. Notre Dame, as a private institution, is not required to release financial records. But Weis did say money was not the motivating factor behind the extension.

“In the last 24 hours I have heard zillions of dollars of difference between the lowest end and the highest end,” Weis said. “It really is irrelevant. If it was about money, I would be coaching in the NFL.”