DURHAM — Duke and football coach David Cutcliffe have agreed to a contract extension with the Blue Devils in the midst of their best season in nearly two decades.
Sources familiar with the negotiations said the deal should completed this week, perhaps as soon as today, and would run through the 2018 season.
Financial terms of the deal will not be disclosed per the standard policy for Duke, which is a private school.
According to a college football coaches’ salary database compiled and published by USA Today, Cutcliffe’s base salary is $1.79 million this season. That placed him below the median salary for ACC football coaches, which is approximately $2.2 million this season.
Cutcliffe has led Duke to a 6-5 record this season, his fifth at the school, and the Blue Devils are bowl eligible for the first time since 1994.
Cutcliffe’s name has been connected with openings at Tennessee, where he worked two different stints as an assistant coach, and Kentucky in recent weeks. But on Sunday, Cutcliffe emphatically stated that he will remain at Duke for next season.
“I can tell you right now that I’m going to be coaching at Duke next year,” Cutcliffe said. “I’m very happy here, and this is where I’m going to be.”
On Tuesday, the 58-year-old Cutcliffe reiterated that he and his family are happy at Duke and he’s enjoying the process of building a competitive football program.
“Karen and I,” Cutcliffe said, referring to his wife, “we know this is a business. It’s all about people. (Duke president) Dick Brodhead and (athletics director) Kevin White are the kind of people we want to be associated with.
“Our staff and our coaches, we are just very committed to the people that are at Duke and are with us here. There are a lot of things to celebrate.”
Duke closes the regular season on Saturday at home against Miami. If the Blue Devils win, they will clinch their first winning season since the 1994 campaign, when Duke finished 8-4.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, Duke will head to its first bowl game since losing to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 2, 1995. Having taken over a program that had won 10 games in the eight seasons prior to his arrival, Cutcliffe said progress has been made but there’s more to do.
“We’re proud of some of the accomplishments that have been made in five years,” Cutcliffe said. “But the other thing that keeps the fire in me is I know how much more we can get done.”
Duke’s players learned of Cutcliffe’s continuing commitment to their program on Sunday when he told them he wouldn’t be entertaining any outside job offers if they came his way.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Duke sophomore running back Josh Snead said. “He’s a man of his word. He really wants this program to be a great program and to dominate in the ACC. He’s put his faith out there in this team.”
Blue Devils linebacker C.J. France said it’s obvious Cutcliffe has big plans for Duke.
“Over the conversations I’ve had with Coach Cut and even before I came here, I knew Coach Cut was committed to the program,” France said. “He wanted to change the program. We’ve been changing the culture and it’s a big change. I know why he would stay, and I didn’t expect him to do anything but stay here.”
Duke’s administration is backing Cutcliffe’s commitment with increased financial support.
Two months ago, Duke announced an aggressive campus-wide $3.25 billion fundraising initiative called “Duke Forward.” A portion of that, $250 million, will go toward athletic facilities upgrades, enhancements and other projects.
The largest part of the facilities upgrades will come at 83-year-old Wallace Wade Stadium, where the track encircling the stadium will be removed to allow the playing surface to be lowered and more seats added closer to the field.
The project also calls for new club seats, new restroom and concession facilities and a new building that will house luxury suites. The enclosing of the horseshoe opening on the south end will increase by more than 10,000 to 43,915.
Tentative plans call for construction to being immediately after the 2013 season, with the renovated stadium ready for the 2014 season.