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Saturday, January 22, 2022

UCLA, Chip Kelly agree to 4-year contract extension

Football coach Chip Kelly has signed a new four-year contract with UCLA.

Kelly was due to begin the final year of his original five-year contract with the university on Sunday.

“We greatly appreciate the entire UCLA administration for their support of our football program,” Kelly said in a press release. “We have a lot of gratitude for our players and staff. Their tireless hard work and commitment to our vision has built a great foundation. We’re excited to continue to make this event something that will make UCLA fans proud.”

The extension comes days after two of Kelly’s coordinators had officially left the program to take jobs with various other universities, and another coordinator resigned from his position.

All three coordinators have been with the program since Kelly moved to Westwood in 2018.

In 2021, Kelly led the Bruins to their first winning season (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12 on aggregate) during his tenure. UCLA became eligible for the Bowl for the first time under Kelly, but was forced to pull out of the Holiday Bowl, hours before kickoff, due to COVID-19 protocols.

The program had a promising start to the season with a win over LSU, but dropped out of the AP Top 25 pole and began leaning toward another .500 season in October.

The Bruins went 3–0 in the month of November, which seemed to be enough to keep Kelly at Westwood and avoid the coaching carousel chaos.

Kelly was asked about the status of his contract on several occasions but he never wanted to address his contract publicly.

If the university wanted to go in a different direction, Kelly would have been owed a $9 million purchase.

According to information obtained by John Wilner of The Mercury News, the athletics department reported a deficit of $18.9 million for the 2019 fiscal year. UCLA could avoid paying for the purchase if they had kept Kelly employed until January 15, the last day of her fourth year. Kelly’s fifth year did not include the buyout.

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“This new contract represents the commitment, consistency, and investment needed to grow our football program upwards,” UCLA athletic director Martin Germond said in a statement. “Since joining UCLA, our football team’s win percentage has increased every year, which includes increased pace of recruitment and strategic use of the transfer portal.”

The extension comes in the form of a vote of confidence in a coach who went 16-25 in his first four seasons. The decision to keep Kelly provided some stability for the program.

Kelly would replace three key assistants: offensive coordinator Justin Fry, who moved to Ohio State to become its associate head coach for offense and offensive line coach; Special Teams Coordinator Derek Sage, who left to become Nevada’s offensive coordinator; and defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro, who has reportedly resigned.

In addition to new openings on the coaching staff, roster management will be a top priority this off-season and Kelly spoke up at the end of November.

Most of the Bruins’ draft-eligible players have made their future intentions clear, while another 12 players have already left the program thanks to the transfer portal.

Ten high school seniors signed during the initial signing period. Kelly has said that he will consider exploring the transfer portal to use any remaining scholarships.

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