BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Boise State's Chris Petersen has officially joined college football's $2 million coaching club.
The State Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to give Petersen a $375,000 raise for 2012, the first step toward replacing his old contract with a new five-year deal designed to keep Petersen in Boise through January 2017.
The pay raise and new contract come at the end of another successful season and after reports linking Petersen's name to the year's biggest coaching vacancies, including renewed rumors this week that Penn State intended to make another play for Petersen's services.
"I feel honored and blessed that I will continue to lead this football team," Petersen said in a statement. "I appreciate the support of the administration and Bronco Nation, and I'm excited about the continued growth of this program."
In six seasons at Boise State, Petersen has led the Broncos to a 73-6 record, two BCS bowl victories and elevated the program's profile enough to earn an invitation to join the Big East Conference starting in 2013.
This year, the Broncos finished 12-1 and clobbered Arizona State 56-24 in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas last month. Petersen also owns the best winning percentage among active coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision (.924).
Petersen's current deal, renegotiated and sweetened several times in recent years, called for a 2012 salary of $1.625 million. Under terms of the proposed new deal, Petersen's salary would increase $200,000 in each of the next four years. It also includes new incentive bonuses for meeting academic and athletic goals and an increase of his buyout to $750,000, according to terms provided by athletic officials.
Locking Petersen down to a new deal - and quelling in the short term perennial rumors linking him to other jobs - has been one of the primary objectives of Boise State administrators and the school's new athletic director, Mark Coyle, who left Kentucky last month to oversee Broncos athletics.
"Chris Petersen's success in sustaining excellence in football at Boise State has created a unique opportunity for the university to achieve national attention as a school equally dedicated to academic excellence," said university President Bob Kustra. "Chris is a national role model for football coaches across the nation and it is my fondest hope that he will provide that leadership from Boise State for years to come."
The raise and new contract - which will come from revenue generated by the football program and not state tax dollars - put Petersen in exclusive company, one of about 40 coaches making at least $2 million annually. But he's also at the bottom of that list and far below the $5 million paid to Texas coach Mack Brown. Other top paid coaches include Alabama's Nick Saban at $4.6 million per year, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops at $4.07 million and Les Miles at LSU at $3.75 million per year.