North Texas coach Seth Littrell has signed a one-year contract extension that will make him one of the highest-paid coaches guiding a program outside of a Power Five conference.
Littrell is set to make $1.35 million in base salary with guaranteed incentives that will boost his annual compensation past $1.8 million under the terms of a deal that extends his contract through the 2023 season. His previous contract paid him a base salary of $1.2 million.
The Denton Record-Chronicle obtained the contract that went into effect June 1 through an open-records request.
“We are excited to come to an agreement to extend coach Littrell’s contact,” UNT athletic director Wren Baker said. “He has done a great job of building a program that not only wins games but also builds champions and prepares leaders. We are going to stay aggressive with our coaches’ compensation so that we are in position to retain them.”
Littrell took over a program that finished 1-11 in 2015 and has turned the Mean Green into one of the top teams in Conference USA.
UNT has played in bowl games in each of Littrell’s three seasons. The Mean Green have won nine games in each of the last two years and captured the C-USA West Division title in 2017.
UNT has now renegotiated Littrell’s contract in three consecutive years. Littrell had not worked as a head coach before taking over UNT’s program.
Littrell’s latest deal contains several of the same incentives as his previous contracts, including a car allowance and an annual retention bonus. The amount of some of those incentives increased, bumping up the total value of the contract.
Littrell’s yearly retention bonus jumped from $50,000 to $100,000. His radio/TV stipend also increased in value. Littrell earned $150,000 in radio/TV money last season, an amount that was set to increase by $50,000 annually.
Littrell’s new radio/TV stipend will start at $250,000 and increase by $50,000 per year.
UNT added an annual $100,000 payment for the use of a charter plane in his new contract.
There are several performance incentives in the deal. Littrell can earn a bonus of $20,000 for winning seven total games or six conference games per season.
Littrell’s bonus for total victories increases with the number of games UNT wins per year and tops out at a maximum of $70,000. He also can earn a $20,000 bonus for being named coach of the year in C-USA.
Littrell is an Oklahoma native and played fullback for the OU Sooners. He has frequently expressed how comfortable he feels at UNT.
“This is an unbelievable place,” Littrell said in the days leading up to spring practice. “It’s a great community and I am in my footprint close to home. We are also on the same page with our administration. The sky is the limit for North Texas because of the people who are in place here with our administration and fans.”
The success Littrell has enjoyed at UNT has attracted the attention of programs across the nation. He was briefly a candidate to take over for legendary coach Bill Snyder at Kansas State before pulling out of consideration for the job in December.
Littrell’s buyout in his new contract is 30% of his base salary for the remaining portion of his contract.
Littrell’s previous contract called for him to pay 40% of his base salary for the duration of his contract if he left the school after the first year of the deal. The percentage of base salary Littrell would owe if he left the program dwindled on a percentage basis yearly under terms of the deal he signed after the 2017 season.
For total pay of $1.425 million, Littrell ranked 75th among coaches working in the Football Bowl Subdivision last season, according to USA Today‘s contacts database.
Memphis coach Mike Norvell ($2.6 million), Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo ($2.16 million) and Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell ($2 million) were the only coaches at Group of Five schools to earn more than $1.8 in total compensation last season, according to USA Today.
UNT has seen its investment in Littrell pay off in increased attendance and wins. The school averaged a record 23,355 fans per home game in 2018 and has set a new attendance high in each of the last two seasons.
Littrell signed with high-profile agent Jimmy Sexton after arriving at UNT. School officials have been working on finalizing Littrell’s contract with Sexton over the last few months.
UNT regents approved the parameters of Littrell’s extension in late May.
UNT’s players expressed confidence in the future of the program under Littrell in the days leading up to their loss to Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl in December.
“He is 100% real and keeps it honest with you,” said E.J. Ejiya, a former linebacker who was among UNT’s top players last season. “He is a coach you can trust.”