- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Richt's contract that took six months to renegotiate needed a few extra hours to gain official approval.
Because of a scheduling mixup, the University of Georgia Athletic Association's executive board was forced to delay by three hours a conference call where members would approve the football coach's new deal. Once they reconvened Thursday evening, they unanimously approved the terms of Richt's deal that carries a $2.81 million annual salary and will run through 2016.
"These discussions were held in January and they were over very quickly in January, so this is not something that's been going on and on and on for months, these details that I'm talking to you about," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said of the long wait to finalize the deal.
"We had these settled many, many months ago. What was getting caught up and what took so long was maybe some tax issues, there were some legal wording that needed to be worked out between our general counsel, our counsel and Mark's representatives, so it just takes longer. But the deal points have been solid from Day One."
One of the most intriguing elements of the new contract is Georgia removed the penalty toward Richt -- a minimum of $2 million -- if he chooses to leave Georgia before the contract expires, although McGarity said Richt has given no indication that should be a concern.
"I've always felt that way, especially when you're established and you've been at an institution for a long time," McGarity said. "I just feel like there should not be a financial anchor, but there's been nothing that has been any kind of indication or anything that Mark is going to do that."
Richt later reiterated a point he first made when he accepted the job in December 2000 -- he has no intention of taking a coaching job elsewhere.
"It's not something that I was asking for. It's something that (McGarity) suggested and I said that would be fine," Richt said. "But I think the bottom line is for me that I think I've been here for long enough for everybody to understand. And if anybody was here back at my first press conference when I took the job at Georgia that Georgia's my home. Georgia's where I want to be.
"Georgia's the only job I want, the only job I've ever wanted as a head coach. That's just the way it's been from the very beginning and that hasn't changed. My mom, my dad, my brother, my two sisters, they all live in Athens. This is my home."
Richt's base salary essentially remains the same under the new deal, but the performance-based incentives -- for achievements such as SEC division and conference titles, bowl appearances and BCS championships -- in the contract all essentially double. His maximum total annual bonus increases from $400,000 to $800,000, which McGarity said would compare favorably to that of almost any head coach in the country.
Finally, the deal alters the buyout Richt would receive if Georgia terminates his deal before its completion. If he were fired after the 2012 season, he would receive $4.8 million, but the amount would decrease to $2.4 after the 2013 season and by $800,000 per year for the rest of the contract.
University president Michael Adams also announced Thursday that McGarity will receive a raise and contract extension through December 2017. McGarity's salary will rise from $460,000 to $500,000 on July 1. It will rise again to $550,000 on July 1, 2013, under the new deal.
"He's shown extraordinary leadership," Adams said of McGarity, who recently released women's golf coach Kelley Hester and gymnastics coach Jay Clark. "He's widely respected already among the other ADs in the conference. I've watched him make some tough personnel decisions this spring and have been impressed with how he has handled that, as well as with the negotiations with the football coach."
McGarity announced in March that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham -- whose unit led Georgia's resurgence a year ago that resulted in the program's first SEC East title since 2005 -- would receive a two-year contract extension through 2014. McGarity said Georgia will release a draft of Grantham's new contract on Friday.
Richt's assistants operate under contracts that expire at the end of June, and he and McGarity expect that their new deals could also contain new incentive terms similar to those in Richt's new agreement.
Entering his 12th season at Georgia, where he has a 106-38 record, Richt said the length of time that it took to complete the deal did not create ill will and that he remains excited to coach the Bulldogs.
"If Georgia wants to extend my contract, I'm excited about that. I don't want to have to ask for an extension, I don't want to have to ask for a raise, I don't want to have to ask for whatever," he said. "If Georgia wants me to stay, that's where I want to be. If Georgia wants to give me a raise, then I'm fired up about that. If Georgia wants to double my incentives for excellence, I'm fine with that, too. I feel like a very blessed man to be at Georgia."
11hEthan Sherwood Strauss