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Auburn hikes Chizik's salary to $3.5M

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AUBURN, Ala. (AP)

Auburn's Gene Chizik has received a new contract nearly doubling his salary and making him one of college football's highest paid coaches.

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A gallery from national champion Auburn's visit to the White House to meet President Obama.

Auburn announced the deal Friday and it's worth $3.5 million a year through 2015, with incentives that could tack on another $1 million. Chizik was rewarded for leading the Tigers to their first national title since 1957 in just his second season.

He made $2.1 million in salary last season, but received another $1.3 million in bonuses following the 14-0 season.

''We believe that we have the best coach in college football,'' Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said in a statement. ''More importantly, coach Chizik is a great mentor to our student-athletes, he represents Auburn with class and integrity in all that he does, and he is an outstanding ambassador for Auburn University.''

The final two months of the season were played under a cloud of controversy involving Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton's recruitment and his father's pay-for-play solicitations at Mississippi State. The NCAA is still investigating, but reinstated Newton after a brief weekday suspension before the SEC title game. The NCAA stated there was no evidence at the time that the junior college transfer knew about the scheme or that Auburn was guilty of any wrongdoing.

Newton was drafted No. 1 overall by the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

Chizik, who does not have an agent, worked on the deal with Birmingham attorney Russ Campbell.

''I want to thank President (Jay) Gogue and Jay Jacobs for their leadership and vision and believing in the direction that we have established for the Auburn football program,'' Chizik said in a statement. ''I deeply appreciate their commitment to me and to the future of Auburn football.

''The success that we've accomplished in the past two seasons has been possible because of the collective efforts of the football coaches and staff, players, our administration and the entire Auburn Family. We will continue to work tirelessly to build the foundation of the Auburn football program so that we can compete for championships regularly.''

The hefty raise still doesn't quite push Chizik up into Nick Saban territory, but does make him the SEC's fourth-highest paid head coach. The Alabama coach's deal is worth $4.7 million annually counting completion bonuses.

LSU's Les Miles received a seven-year deal in January worth $3.75 million a year after discussions with alma mater Michigan about that school's head coaching vacancy. In December, Arkansas' Bobby Petrino got a seven-year deal worth $3.56 million a year.

Other coaches who earn more included Texas' Mack Brown ($5 million), Oklahoma's Bob Stoops ($4.3) Iowa's Kirk Ferentz ($3.7). Southern California is a private institution and has not released information about Lane Kiffin's contract.

Chizik, a former Auburn and Texas defensive coordinator, is 22-5 in two years with Auburn since a hiring that was criticized because of a losing record in two seasons at Iowa State.

The Tigers were projected to finish in the middle of the Southeastern Conference Western Division last season, but instead Newton and Lombardi Award winner Nick Fairley to the title and a 22-19 win over Oregon in the BCS championship game.

Tagged: Cam Newton, Auburn

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