ATHENS — A No. 2 finish in 2007 helped earn Georgia coach Mark Richt a big raise on Thursday.
Richt’s boss hinted that a bigger raise awaits if Richt can move his team up one spot in the final 2008 poll.
Georgia’s athletic board approved an $800,000 raise for Richt, increasing his annual pay to $2.8 million.
Even after the big raise, Richt is only the fifth-highest paid coach in the Southeastern Conference, behind Alabama’s Nick Saban, Louisiana State’s Les Miles, Florida’s Urban Meyer and Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville.
Athletic director Damon Evans noted Saban, Miles and Meyer each have won national championships.
“There are some institutions out there that have coaches who have won a national championship, and when you get to that level, that is a different level,” Evans said.
The four SEC coaches ahead of Richt on the salary list each make more than $3 million per year.
Georgia finished 11-2 in 2007 by winning its final seven games, including a 41-10 romp over Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.
Georgia is 72-19 with two Southeastern Conference championships in seven years under Richt. The Bulldogs have won 10 or more games in five of the last six years and have finished first or tied for first in the SEC East four times under Richt.
Georgia returns 15 starters and is expected to be picked among the top national championship contenders in the 2008 preseason polls.
“This had a lot to do with the success he had this year, where our program stands and it also has a lot to do with the market,” Evans said.
“Mark has done an incredible job over his run here as our head football coach, not only in the win-loss column but how he represents this institution and what he means to us overall.”
Evans said the raise was made effective retroactive to Jan. 1.
The raise was unanimously approved by the board’s executive committee. University of Georgia president Michael Adams called the raise “a significant salary adjustment.”
Richt still has six years remaining on the eight-year, $16 million deal he signed in 2006, when he received a pay increase from $1.5 million to $2 million per year.
Evans said an extension was not necessary because Richt already has a contract through the 2013 season. Terms of the deal, including buyout provisions, have not changed.
“It’s a blessing for me and my family to be at UGA,” Richt said. “We’ve been treated extraordinarily well and look forward to being at Georgia for many years to come. I’m very appreciative of the confidence in our program on the part of the administration and the athletic board.”