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Board approves multi-year deals for coaches

Lorenzo Ward
Lorenzo Ward

Nobody is making Tennessee money, but South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman believes the contracts for the Gamecocks’ new coordinators allow USC to stay competitive in the SEC market without breaking the bank.

The executive committee of USC’s board of trustees approved three-year contracts Friday for two of Steve Spurrier’s five new assistant coaches.

Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Lorenzo Ward received a guaranteed $275,000 per year in a deal that includes a $200,000 base salary and $75,000 media supplement.

USC also will pay for temporary housing for up to a year for Ward, who is trying to sell homes in Atlanta and Fayetteville, Ark., where he spent a year on the Arkansas staff before coming to Columbia.

Running game coordinator and offensive line coach Eric Wolford, a former Illinois assistant, received a $250,000 compensation package that includes a $50,000 media supplement.

“It’s what Steve said he needed, and we were able to fulfill his needs,” Hyman said.

USC would pay Ward and Wolford the remainder of their contracts if they were fired without cause before their deals expire in January 2012. The coaches would owe the university $30,000 for each year left on their contracts if they leave early.

Ward and Wolford join Ellis Johnson, assistant head coach for defense, as the only assistants with multi-year deals. Johnson, who received a contract extension in the fall midway through his first season at USC, has a three-year deal worth $350,000 annually.

USC has not released the salary figures for the other new assistants or returning coaches because not all of them have been finalized.

Tennessee escalated the SEC arms race this offseason by providing lucrative deals to the assistants of first-year coach Lane Kiffin. Monte Kiffin, Lane’s father, will make $1.2 million a year as the Vols’ defensive coordinator; former Mississippi coach Ed Orgeron received $650,000 a year to serve as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach.

“We’re going through unchartered waters,” said Hyman, who reserves multi-year deals for coordinators. “... You want to be prudent in what you’re trying to do.”

To-do list. The building and grounds committee signed off on a number of facility improvement projects, including several at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Trustees approved $495,000 requests from the athletics department for:

 installation of new drainage and irrigation systems at Stone Stadium, the Gamecocks’ soccer facility;

 conversion of the former training area at Williams-Brice to a recruiting room;

 upgrades to the electrical systems at Williams-Brice, some of which are nearly 50 years old;

 waterproofing the west stands at Williams-Brice.

The board also gave initial approval to a $2.8 million plan to renovate 18 suites and club seats on the west side of Williams-Brice.

This and that. USC chief financial officer Rick Kelley informed the board that the budget for Carolina Stadium was increased by $200,000 to purchase the aluminum bleachers in the left field stands rather than lease them. ...

USC’s Development Foundation has acquired the Gamecocks’ equestrian facility in Blythewood and a three-acre tract on Blossom Street where the women’s tennis courts are located.