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Wisconsin rewards Bielema with five-year, $7.5M deal

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema was
rewarded Friday for his highly successful first season with a new
five-year, $7.5 million contract.

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents approved an
amended contract on Friday that will increase Bielema's salary from
$750,000 to $1.3 million this year.

Bielema, who guided the Badgers to a 12-1 record after taking
over from Barry Alvarez, will be guaranteed a $100,000 salary
increase every year under the deal. The contract will run through
Jan. 31, 2012.

Bielema, at 37 the second-youngest head coach in NCAA Division
I-A, led the Badgers to the most victories in school history, a tie
for second place in the Big Ten and a 17-14 victory over Arkansas
in the Capital One Bowl. The Badgers finished at No. 7 in The
Associated Press poll.

"I'm very grateful that the university administration and the
regents have shown this level of confidence in our program,"
Bielema said in a statement. "I appreciate their support and I
will work -- along with my staff -- to justify that confidence by
continuing to help our student-athletes grow academically,
athletically and socially."

The raise will bring Bielema's salary up from near the bottom of
Big Ten coaches to the middle, said Walter Dickey, chair of the
Athletic Board.

He said the raise rewards Bielema for a stellar season and
demonstrates the university's commitment to keeping him even as
coaches' salaries skyrocket.

"We're recognizing where this market is going," Dickey said.
"We'd like him to stay, and we'd like to avoid a bidding war in
the future. We thought both reward and prudence dictated that we
give him a significant raise with the idea that in the long-run
this is in everybody's interest."

The deal guarantees Bielema a base salary of $400,000, plus
$900,000 from department program revenue. That amount will increase
by $100,000 every year.

The amendment replaces a five-year, $4 million contract that ran
through 2011. That deal guaranteed him $750,000 in salary every
year, which would have increased by $25,000 per year. Bielema also
earned $50,000 for the bowl game and $10,000 for being named Big
Ten coach of the year under the contract's bonus provision.

Alvarez, who remains the university's athletics director, said
Bielema "had a terrific first season, one that made us the envy of
many universities nationally."

"He did it through hard work, by setting high standards on the
field and in the classroom and by refusing to compromise on his
values," Alvarez said in a statement.

Alvarez tapped Bielema as his successor when he announced his
retirement as coach in 2005. Bielema spent two years as defensive
coordinator under Alvarez and worked as an assistant at Kansas
State and Iowa before coming to Wisconsin.