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Idaho Football

Idaho football coach Jason Eck’s contract extended through 2028 season

By Peter Harriman The Spokesman-Review

The University of Idaho has secured the services of football coach Jason Eck through the 2028 season after the Idaho State Board of Education approved a two-year contract extension Wednesday.

Vandals athletics director Terry Gawlik “contacted me right after the (2023) regular season. She said they were interested in doing an extension,” Eck said Wednesday.

Idaho reached the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in Eck’s second season in 2023, and the Vandals were in the first round in 2022.

“I am really excited the state board approved that contract today,” Eck said.

“I like it here. I like living here. I like coaching this team. I love it here. I hope we can be here for a long time.”

In 2022, Eck became a head coach for the first time when he signed an initial five-year contract with the Vandals with a $175,000 base salary. With incentives for team performance on the field and in the classroom, coaching honors, and the like, the deal was worth a maximum $378,000 annually.

The contract extension maintains the $175,000 base salary but includes an annual $75,000 raise from Idaho’s broadcast partner, Learfield. With incentives, the new maximum is $462,000. The contract also includes a $525,000 buyout.

Overall, Eck’s Vandals have been 16-9 in his two seasons, 12-4 in the Big Sky Conference.

“It has been a while since we could string together a few good seasons in a row,” he said.

Eck’s predecessor at Idaho, Paul Petrino, was 34-66 between 2013 and 2021, which included five years when the Vandals played in the Football Bowl Subdivision before returning to FCS and the Big Sky in 2018. The highlight of Petrino’s time at Idaho was 2016, when the Vandals were 9-4 and won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Gawlik, who hired Eck, said “I am thrilled to see coach Eck build on the exciting start to his tenure leading our Vandal football program.

“Our success on the field has elevated our program and our university on a national stage.”

The Vandals also posted a team grade average of 3.30 following the spring semester and 3.13 in fall 2023. Both are records.

“The record-breaking performances in the classroom speak to his ability to prioritize our core values. We are so looking forward to the fall and watching Vandal take it to the next level under coach Eck’s leadership,” Gawlik said.

Eck said he wants to see Idaho among the FCS elites, including South Dakota State University, where Eck was an assistant coach for six years before coming to Idaho, North Dakota State University, Montana and Montana State.

Eck said while he has long-term stability at Idaho, volatile changes in college athletics make him “still nervous about some things.”

If Division I college athletes are paid and thus considered school employees, will that start an exodus among Idaho’s competitors to Division III where there are no financial incentives to play, Eck wonders. Also, while Idaho plans to reduce its schedule from playing two FBS schools a year to one, Eck said if FBS schools’ television partners pressure those schools to no longer play FCS opponents like the Vandals, Idaho would lose a significant source of revenue.

“We have just got to keep positioning Idaho the best we can,” he said, “on the field, in fundraising and in attendance.”

As he strives to do that going forward, Eck says he realizes “I have got a tremendous job here. I’m not saying I am going to sign a lifetime contract here, but I am going to be very selective about moving on.”