Richt's recent revival of Georgia's program leads to $800K raise

Georgia football coach Mark Richt, who has guided the Bulldogs to two SEC titles in his seven seasons at the school, was given an $800,000 raise on Thursday that boosts his annual salary to $2.8 million per season.

The school didn't extend Richt's contract, which expires after the 2013 season. Richt has a 72-19 record at Georgia, the fourth-highest winning percentage among active Division I coaches. Last season, Richt guided the Bulldogs to an 11-2 record and No. 3 ranking in the final ESPN/USA Today coaches' Top 25 poll. Georgia was ranked No. 2 in the AP poll.

"There are some institutions out there that have coaches who have won a national championship, and when you get to that level, that is a different level," Georgia athletic director Damon Evans told The Associated Press.

The Bulldogs have won 10 or more games in five of the past six years and have finished first or tied for first in the SEC East four times under Richt. Georgia returns 15 starters and is expected to be picked among the preseason favorites to win the 2008 national championship.

"This had a lot to do with the success he had this year, where our program stands and it also has a lot to do with the market," Evans said.

"Mark has done an incredible job over his run here as our head football coach, not only in the win-loss column but how he represents this institution and what he means to us overall."

Richt, 48, is now the fifth-highest-paid football coach in the SEC, tied with Auburn's Tommy Tuberville. Alabama's Nick Saban earns $3.75 million per season, and LSU's Les Miles will make between $3.2 million and $3.5 million in 2008.

Evans said the raise was made effective retroactive to Jan. 1.

The raise was unanimously approved by the board's executive committee. University of Georgia president Michael Adams called the raise "a significant salary adjustment."

Florida's Urban Meyer is paid $3.25 million per season, and Arkansas is scheduled to pay former Atlanta Falcons coach Bobby Petrino $2.85 million in 2008. Each of the SEC's three highest-paid coaches has won a national championship.

Richt's previous salary of $2 million per season made him the SEC's seventh-highest-paid coach. When Richt became Georgia's coach before the 2001 season, the Bulldogs hadn't won an SEC title since 1982. He guided Georgia to SEC titles in 2002 and 2005.

"It's a blessing for me and my family to be at UGA," Richt said. "We've been treated extraordinarily well and look forward to being at Georgia for many years to come. I'm very appreciative of the confidence in our program on the part of the administration and the athletic board."

Evans said Georgia's assistant coaches also will receive raises.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.