WCU APPROVES CONTRACT
The executive committee of Western Carolina University's board of trustees unanimously agreed Wednesday, Sept. 13, to grant a three-year contract extension to Catamount head football coach Kent Briggs and three of his assistant coaches.
Briggs' current contract is set to expire at the end of the current season. The committee granted the extensions during a specially called meeting in an effort to bring more stability to the football program, Chancellor John W. Bardo said.
Also offered three-year contract extensions are assistant coaches Myron Jackson, David Napert and Don Powers.
“By taking care of these matters early in the season, we are demonstrating that we are serious about providing stability and continuity to Catamount football,” Bardo said. “This action will greatly assist coaching staff members when they go out on the recruiting trail because it shows that the university is committed to the program.”
The Catamounts' head coach since 2002, Briggs received a one-year extension on his contract last year when he was battling head and neck cancer. University officials said then they wanted to give Briggs time to recover from the potentially life-threatening illness without worrying about job security.
Chip Smith, director of athletics at WCU, said the decision to request Wednesday's extensions came from an evaluation of the football program that underscored a need for continuity to be successful.
“If you look at some of the most successful programs in the Southern Conference, you find very little turnover among their football staffs. Even with several coaching staff changes and Kent's health problems last season, the football program showed improvement and had a winning record,” said Smith.
Last year's Catamount squad was in position to play for a share of the 2005 Southern Conference championship before falling to eventual national champion Appalachian State in the season finale, he said.
“We have a head coach in place who is and who wants to be a Catamount, who would like nothing more than to return a winning football tradition to Western Carolina University. He has a fine staff of assistants that can help achieve that goal. It was important that we give him the continued time and support to do the job,” Smith said.
“This was a decision not based on a won-lost record. It speaks to the integrity of the institution and desire to build a program of which the university and our alumni are proud. We are confident that this continued support, along with the support of our fans, will make that a reality,” he said.
Briggs, 49, earned bachelor's and master's degrees at Western. An Asheville native and graduate of Reynolds High School, he played quarterback at Western under legendary coach Bob Waters from 1976 until 1979, and later worked as assistant coach with Waters from 1980 until 1988. His wife, Lisa, holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Western and is an assistant professor of applied criminology.
Briggs said he is thankful to the university administration for its commitment to inject stability into the football program.
“Our goal has always been to get to the top of the Southern Conference consistently and win championships. Last year we proved we could play for a championship. Now we need to take that to the next level and realize our goal. The fight to get to the top level is a tough one and will take continued hard work. However, I truly believe with the commitment of a united Catamount community, we will get the job done,” he said.
“I am excited that we can now develop consistency on the staff,” Briggs said. “These contract extensions are a statement that will truly develop continuity on the football staff, the student-athletes now in the program and future student-athletes, which will make the university proud.”
Briggs and the Catamounts return to action Saturday, Sept. 16, as WCU hosts 19th-ranked Eastern Kentucky at 6 p.m.
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Last modified: Thursday, September 14, 2006
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