Wren Baker contract

North Texas athletic director Wren Baker speaks to the media during a press conference at Apogee Stadium last month announcing the school is joining the American Athletic Conference. UNT has signed Baker to a contract extension that runs to 2029.

North Texas athletic director Wren Baker has finalized a contract extension with the school that runs to Feb. 28, 2029.

UNT officials completed their deal with Baker within the last few weeks.

The Denton Record-Chronicle obtained a copy of the agreement late Monday.

Baker’s base salary started at $625,000 under terms of the deal. The base salary jumps by $25,000 in each year of the contract and reaches $800,000 per year on March 1, 2028.

The deal also includes an annual retention bonus due on March 1 starting at $100,000.

The bonus will increase to $125,000 in 2023 and $150,000 in 2025.

Baker will also receive a courtesy car, $7,200 annual automobile allowance and a membership at Denton Country Club.

UNT negotiated its deal with Baker while he was in the midst of a long-term effort to move the school to a new conference. Those efforts paid off just a few days ago when UNT accepted an invitation to the American Athletic Conference.

UNT is currently a member of Conference USA.

“My family and I are very grateful for the opportunities we’ve had at UNT,” Baker said in a statement to the Record-Chronicle. “I’m fortunate to work for a great President in Neal Smatresk as well as our Chancellor Lesa Roe and Board of Regents. Everyone in this community has been incredibly supportive of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, which has allowed us to have success and make some very special memories together.”

The UNT Board of Regents delegated authority to Smatresk to negotiate a new contract with Baker earlier this year.

Baker arrived at UNT in the summer of 2016. He signed a new contract in summer of 2018 that ran through February of 2024 and an amendment to that agreement in 2019.

Baker was set to make $575,000 this year under the terms of the amendment that increased his annual salary.

Baker’s new deal includes several incentives for the academic performance of UNT’s athletes as well as competitive success and fundraising milestones. Those incentives include a $20,000 bonus if UNT receives a bowl bid in football, a berth in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament or the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Baker will receive a $20,000 bonus if UNT raises more than $6 million for a fiscal year. The bonus jumps to $25,000 if UNT clears $7 million and $30,000 if the school brings in more than $8 million.

Baker also has bonuses tied to the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate Report and Graduation Success Report that could result in bonuses of up to $25,000.

UNT has reached several milestones during Baker’s tenure.

The school’s men’s basketball team won an NCAA tournament game for the first time in program history last spring when the Mean Green knocked off Purdue. UNT coach Grant McCasland led the Mean Green to the win.

Baker hired McCasland away from Arkansas State in the spring of 2017.

UNT has also opened several facilities over the last few years that were part of the strategic plan Baker formulated shortly after arriving at the school, including a $16 million indoor football practice facility.

Smatresk attributed UNT’s move to the American largely to Baker formulating a plan to move the school’s athletic program forward.

“This is based off data,” Smatresk said. “Wren is the engineer of the data that got us to this place. The strategic plan has seriously moved us along.”

UNT finalized an agreement with Baker that will ensure he will continue moving the program in the right direction for the foreseeable future. Baker’s contract also offers some protection if he were hired away by another university.

If Baker leaves UNT, he would be required to pay the school a fee. The amount starts at $300,000 if he leaves the school before Feb. 28, 2022. The total declines by $50,000 in each of the following four years before dropping to $0 after Feb. 28, 2026.

The fee Baker would be required to pay if he leaves the school would be cut in half if Smatresk leaves the school during his tenure.

UNT would be required to pay out Baker’s base salary through the end of the contract if it terminates him without cause.

Baker has often spoken about how comfortable he has become at UNT and reiterated his desire to continue developing the school’s athletics program under the terms of his new contract.

“I look forward to working with all of our supporters to continue reaching our goals and lighting the tower as we begin planning for our transition to the American Athletic Conference,” Baker said.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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