Contract negotiations between Arkansas-Pine Bluff and head football coach Monte Coleman are finally nearing an end.
UAPB interim chancellor Calvin Johnson and athletic director Lonza Hardy Jr. confirmed Thursday that both men, along with Coleman, have signed the contract, which will be forwarded to a legal representative of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees for approval. Johnson said the board is “OK” with the contract.
“It’s ready to go,” Johnson said. “The contract is on campus. We had to make some corrections in the language of the contract.”
Hardy and Johnson believe the contract will be approved sometime next week. Johnson’s tenure as interim chancellor ends June 30.
“We reached a final agreement on the major principles of the contract,” Hardy said. “We are all on one accord on the details of the contract, but the final document has not been executed.”
Hardy and Johnson declined to discuss specifics of the new contract, citing its pending approval.
“We made all the changes to the contract the board wanted us to make,” Hardy said. “It will be a contract that (Coleman) is pleased with.”
Asked earlier this week if he was closer to a new contract, Coleman said, “Kind of, yes,” and deferred all other questions about the contract to Hardy.
On Jan. 15, Coleman told The Commercial he and the university had agreed on a new five-year deal, but he added “the thing we haven’t worked out is logistics.” He had not gone into specifics since then.
Johnson said correcting the language of the contract was among the “hang-ups” during the negotiations.
“Not just the language, but to get the compensation in to satisfy coach Coleman and to satisfy the needs and interests of the university,” Johnson said. “We worked through all those things.
“It was not like we were fighting. We promised coach Coleman something and we would get it for him.”
Coleman’s original contract, which expired Dec. 31, was a five-year deal with an annual base salary of $100,000. Among the incentives in the original contract was a bonus of 10 percent of his annual salary for winning the SWAC Western Division championship, an 8 percent bonus for posting a winning percentage of .800 or better and a 3 percent bonus in addition to other incentives for earning SWAC Coach of the Year honors.
Coleman, who has a 29-27 record at UAPB, was named Coach of the Year by virtue of UAPB’s SWAC championship game victory over Jackson State on Dec. 8. UAPB, which finished 10-2 (an .833 winning percentage), won the Western Division to qualify for the title game.
Since Jan. 1, he has worked under a gentleman’s agreement with UAPB and has conducted normal offseason activities including recruiting and spring drills as normal.
Johnson said he was concerned about the length of time it took to negotiate Coleman’s new contract, but didn’t worry about the execution of the contract.
“It was just a matter of getting everything where it ought to be,” he said. “I wish when December came around, we could have said, ‘Here’s your new contract, Coach,’ … but it’s kind of difficult to just do that, given our resources.”
Hardy said Thursday a contract of this nature is “not a quick-turnaround thing.”
“I think the most important thing is having a contract to have coach Coleman remain the head football coach, that he is happy and he wants to be here,” Hardy said. “That’s the most important thing than the time it takes.”