Kansas rewards Lance Leipold with contract extension through ’29

The University of Kansas and head football coach Lance Leipold have agreed to terms on a new contract that includes an extension through the 2029 season, sources told ESPN.

Leipold, 58, has resuscitated the Jayhawks program in just his second season in Lawrence, leading Kansas to a 6-5 record and its first bowl game since the 2008 season. This is Leipold’s second extension this season; the school announced an extension through the 2027 season in September.

The commitment to Leipold, who was averaging $2.75 million annually on his initial six-year deal when hired in 2021, is indicative of Kansas’ surge in commitment to football investment. In October, the school announced a stadium overhaul project and other facility improvements that are expected to cost more than $300 million.

The deal also is structured to keep Leipold in Lawrence for the long term. His name had been linked to the open jobs at both Nebraska and Wisconsin.

The facility improvement announcement at Kansas came just before the Jayhawks hosted TCU for an appearance on ESPN’s “College GameDay” in October, the first time the show had visited Lawrence. Kansas started this season 5-0, with star quarterback Jalon Daniels emerging as an early favorite for the Heisman Trophy. The Jayhawks won road games against West Virginia and Houston and at home versus Duke and Iowa State, leading to the school’s first national ranking since 2009.

Leipold didn’t get hired by Kansas until late April of last season, inheriting a mess left behind by former coach Les Miles, who went 3-18 in two seasons. In Leipold’s first year in 2021, he authored a signature victory with an overtime upset of Texas in Austin. Kansas was a 31-point underdog in that game, which snapped a 56-game conference road losing streak. Perhaps more important, the win delivered a jolt of hope to a program that had long been entrenched in the Big 12’s basement and gave immediate credibility for Leipold’s program.

Since reaching the Insight Bowl and Orange Bowl in back-to-back seasons, in 2007 and 2008, Kansas football had spiraled into one of the sport’s laughingstocks. None of the four coaches since Mark Mangino’s firing in 2009 — Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, David Beaty and Miles — delivered a winning record or lasted longer than four years.

Leipold emerged as an early candidate for national coach of the year in 2022, although those expectations have been tempered after Daniels got injured in the home loss to TCU and the Jayhawks lost three straight. Kansas then beat No. 18 Oklahoma State to clinch bowl eligibility.

Leipold won six national titles at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he went 109-6 before taking the Buffalo job in 2015. He led the Bulls to three bowl appearances and two bowl victories in six seasons.

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