Updated 12:55 p.m. with reaction from Fox. . . .
Georgia rewarded basketball coach Mark Fox with a contract extension and a $400,000-a-year raise on Thursday.
The Georgia Athletic Association Executive Board approved a new five-year deal worth $8.5 million for the second-year coach during a specially-called meeting Thursday. The contract was extended one year through June of 2016 and his salary was increased to $1.7 million annually, effective April 1. Fox’s previous contract paid him $1.3 annually and was set to expire in 2015.
The boosts were recommended by to the board by UGA President Michael Adams and Athletic Director Greg McGarity. The motion was unanimously approved.
“It was evident to me we needed to do a couple of things to extend Mark,” McGarity told the board. “He was not among the top half of SEC coaches [in salary]. This effort was to place him in the upper half. He’s the man we want to lead our program and build our program the right way.”
Fox led Georgia to a 21-12 record this past season as the Bulldogs earned their first at-large NCAA tournament berth since 2002.
“I’m very honored to be the basketball coach at Georgia,” Fox said on a conference call with reporters. “I want to thank Dr. Adams and Greg McGarity for their support of our staff. Georgia is committed to building a basketball program and that’s been evident with the support we’ve had here for two years.”
Fox’s name began to surface for other job openings soon after the season was over. But he quickly denied interest in leaving Georgia and said he intended to remain for the long haul.
As soon as Georgia’s season ended with a first-round loss in the NCAA tournament, McGarity said that he would seek to extend and enhance Fox’s employment agreement with the university. The new deal was not a reaction to other offers, he said.
“Trust me, this is all proactive,” McGarity said. “You go ahead and let individuals you’re paying attention and you don’t have to worry about people knocking on your door to say, ‘hey, I need a raise.’ This was all initiated by us. It was not initiated by Mark”
Fox will have his work cut out for him in the first year of his new deal. The Bulldogs lost four players from last year’s squad, including top scorers and rebounders Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, both of whom entered the NBA draft as juniors.
“We’re going to have a young team,” he said. “It makes you a little green than you want to be. But that just means more opportunities for the young guys. And Marcus Thornton and Donte Williams have had the best springs of everybody on our team.”
Fox was asked how he might celebrate his $2 million windfall.
“I probably won’t, to be honest with you,” he said. “Many of you know my wife. She gets my checks and I don’t ever see them. I just go to work. It’s really about getting up tomorrow to figure out how to make Georgia basketball better. That’s what drives me.”