Playing in just its fourth season at the Div. 1-A level, Western Kentucky earns seven wins in 2011 and should’ve qualified for its first bowl game in the program’s history.
As a result of that turnaround from a two-win season in 2010, though, the man who will lead the Hilltoppers into the offseason will do so armed with a new deal.
In a release, WKU announced that head coach Willie Taggart has agreed to a new four-year contract with the school. The release states that the contract begins on January 1, 2012, and includes an automatic one-year rollover on December 31 of each year through 2019.
Taggart’s annual salary will more than double under the new deal, going from $225,000 in 2011 to $475,000 in 2012. Additionally, the budget for Taggart’s assistant coaches will increase by 20 percent.
“This is a much deserved new contract for Coach Taggart, and we are pleased to demonstrate this level of commitment to him and the entire WKU football program,” athletic director Ross Bjork said. “Our second place finish in the Sun Belt Conference and 7-1 league record illustrates perfectly the significant impact Willie has had on our program since taking over just two seasons ago. We successfully competed on a consistent basis following our bye week in September, which is a tremendous credit to our entire coaching staff and players. In addition to helping our players develop and succeed on the field, Coach Taggart cares deeply about his players as both students and people. All 12 of our seniors are on schedule to graduate this year, and our 959 APR ranks second in the conference. We also have had the conference’s top-rated recruiting class each of the last two seasons. Quite simply, every aspect of our program has improved under his watch and we are excited about the future.”
“I sincerely appreciate the commitment made by Dr. Ransdell, Ross and the WKU administration,” Taggart said. “I am very humbled by this show of support, and I will earn every bit of it. As I often say, ‘WKU is in my DNA’ and this is where I want to be. We had a very good season this year in many respects, and I would like to thank my coaching staff and our players for their hard work, dedication and sacrifices to the cause. While we made great strides this year in many areas, we still have work to do to continue this program’s rise to achieving national respect. We need to perform better in non-conference games, and we need to fill Houchens-Smith Stadium on a consistent basis. Our program and the Hilltopper Nation can achieve anything we desire. We are looking forward to signing another strong recruiting class and beginning preparations for the 2012 season, and spring practice begins in just over three months. Go Tops!”
WKU was 2-22 in the two seasons prior to Taggart’s arrival; in the past two years, the Hilltoppers have compiled a 9-15 record, including a 7-5 mark this year.