Tedford's contract calls for improvements

Updated: September 9, 2004, 9:50 PM ET
Associated Press

BERKELEY, Calif. -- California has a promising football program, but could be in danger of losing coach Jeff Tedford unless the school's cramped and aging stadium is improved.

Tedford, who has led the Bears to two winning seasons, has a buyout clause in his contract that drops from $1 million to $500,000 if ground isn't broken by the end of the year. The amount would be zero if the same situation exists at the end of next year.

Sweeping changes have been proposed to upgrade the 1920s-era Memorial Stadium, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that the proposal is unlikely to move forward unless a donor willing to give something in the range of $20 million or more steps forward.

The upgrades were originally projected to cost $140 million but could go as high as $175 million.

The athletic department has raised some money but isn't close to the 40 percent the university requires before going ahead with detailed plans.

In 1997, UC regents approved seismic upgrades at the stadium, which sits on an earthquake fault. However, not much has happened except for the dismantling of a seismically dangerous press box in 2002 and the construction of a temporary facility.

Along with the earthquake retrofit, proposed improvements include a new locker room, offices, weight room and meeting rooms. Improvements aimed at drawing fans include chair backs in stadium seating and better restrooms, along with possible luxury suites or club seating.

The present weight room is so small only one-quarter of the team can lift at one time. Some players share lockers, and meeting space is so tight the offense and defense can't meet at the same time.

The program needs the upgrades to retain Tedford, boost recruiting and draw enough fans to offset an annual deficit.

Tedford is in the second year of a five-year contract renegotiated after his first year. In addition to the buyout clauses, if ground is not broken on the stadium project by the end of this year, a clause prohibiting him from going to another Pac-10 school would be dropped.

School officials say they're confident the project will be successful, although the improvements are not going to be completed before Tedford's contract deadlines. However, officials are hoping the coach will stay so long as progress is being made.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press