Pederson agrees to terms on contract extension

Updated: July 23, 2007, 4:59 PM ET
Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson, praised by some and derided by others for quickly remolding Cornhusker football after coming to town five years ago, has agreed to terms of a five-year contract extension.

The contract finalized last week will pay Pederson $500,000 annually beginning next year, and includes $50,000 for media appearances. That represents a 16 percent pay raise for Pederson, who currently makes $429,837, of which $35,000 is for media appearances, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman said.

Pederson will also be eligible for annual bonuses and pay hikes, opportunities that exist in his current contract.

The performance of Cornhusker athletic teams, academic successes and the financial stability of the athletic department were among the factors that Perlman said led him to offer the extension.

"Our athletic program is well regarded in the highly competitive arena of college athletics, due largely to the focus Steve has placed on balancing athletics and academics for our student athletes," Perlman said.

Pederson thanked fans for making the school "the best college atmosphere in the country."

His new salary puts him near the midpoint of Big 12 athletic directors or "maybe a little higher," Perlman said.

Pederson said he is uncomfortable with his salary being publicized, saying, "I wish salaries were never public."

"I grew up in a family where you never asked," he said.

"It is what it is," Pederson said of the figures being made public, "and you just deal with it.

"Our family would like the privacy and I also think when you do a job, you get paid what the going rate is for the job."

Pederson caused an uproar shortly after being hired in 2002, when he fired Frank Solich as head football coach following the 2003 season. Bill Callahan, former coach of the Oakland Raiders, was eventually hired to replace Solich.

Nebraska is 22-15 under Callahan. The team went unbeaten in North Division play last year and lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game, then lost to Auburn in the Cotton Bowl.

Under Pederson's leadership, Nebraska's football facilities were given a $50 million facelift that included a 6,500-seat expansion in Memorial Stadium's north end zone, a fan-friendly concourse and new strength and athletic medicine facilities.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press