Kentucky extends Mark Stoops

Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, pleased with the direction of the football program, has rewarded second-year coach Mark Stoops with a contract extension that will take him through the 2018 season.

Stoops, who now has five years remaining on his deal, also received a raise and will earn $2.5 million in 2017 and $2.65 million in 2018.

The Wildcats were 2-10 a year ago in Stoops' first season, but he's made significant strides on the recruiting trail and has energized the Kentucky fan base. The Wildcats' last two spring games drew crowds in excess of 50,000 and 35,000, and attendance at Commonwealth Stadium for Kentucky home games last year increased by nearly 10,000.

"We had the nation's second-largest increase in attendance last season, and we have had the two largest spring game attendances in school history," Barnhart said. "In recruiting, Mark and his tireless assistant coaches have made an obvious impact with their first two classes, and their momentum is carrying forward for 2015."

Kentucky's 2014 signing class was ranked 20th nationally by ESPN and included eight four-star prospects. Stoops was able to win several key in-state recruiting battles with Louisville, most notably landing quarterback Drew Barker and defensive tackle Matt Elam.