K-State signs football coach Chris Klieman to a new 8-year, $44 million contract

FILE - Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman holds the trophy after Kansas State defeated TCU in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. Kansas State and Chris Klieman are close to finalizing a new contract that would give the Wildcats' football coach a substantial pay raise while keeping him tied to the program for the next eight seasons, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Monday, May 8, 2023. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas State signed football coach Chris Klieman to a new eight-year contract Monday that will pay an average of $5.5 million annually and could keep him tied to the defending Big 12 champion Wildcats through the 2030 season.

The $44 million deal replaces a contract due to end after the 2026 season that paid Klieman an average of $4 million annually. The new deal bumps Klieman just ahead of KU football coach Lance Leipold who, as the Journal-World previously reported, signed a new contract last year upping his pay to nearly $5 million per year for the next seven years.

“What we have been able to accomplish in our first four years here is due to the culture that our players and staff have been able to create,” Klieman said in a statement. “I am excited to continue to lead this football program and put a product on the field each year that can compete at the highest level.”

Klieman added that Kansas State, which is situated about 2 hours from Kansas City and must overcome some geographic disadvantages when it comes to recruiting, has everything it needs to consistently contend for championships.

That includes a new indoor training facility that just opened next to Bill Snyder Family Stadium, which itself has undergone millions in renovations over the years, putting it in the upper echelon of major college football stadiums.

“Chris has done an unbelievable job building a program in four years that not only has won a Big 12 championship but even more importantly, one that players have taken great pride in and helped sustain a championship culture,” said Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor, who hired Klieman away from North Dakota State to replace the retired Hall of Fame coach Bill Snyder.

“We want to continue the momentum that he and his staff have fostered,” Taylor said. “We are excited that Chris will be the leader of our football program for many years to come.”

The 55-year-old Klieman won four national titles in five years at North Dakota State, which plays a step down in the Football Championship Subdivision, but many still wondered whether that success would translate to college football’s highest level.

Turns out it does.

Klieman went 8-5 and reached the Liberty Bowl in his first season, slipped to 4-6 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and went 8-5 again the following year with a win in the Texas Bowl that provided momentum into last season.

Led by All-American running back Deuce Vaughn and defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah, a first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Wildcats beat TCU in the Big 12 title game — before the Horned Frogs went on to the College Football Playoffs. It was the first conference title for Kansas State since 2012, when Snyder was in his second tenure in Manhattan, Kansas.

Klieman is 30-20 in four seasons with the Wildcats, while his overall college coaching record of 102-33 puts him among the best winning percentages in history. The 30 wins are the most by a Kansas State coach over their first four years.

Kansas State should contend for another Big 12 championship this season.

The Wildcats return quarterback Will Howard, all five starting offensive lineman and several playmakers on defense, including linebacker Daniel Green and safety Kobe Savage. They added Florida State transfer Treshaun Ward to replace Vaughn at running back, Iowa wide receiver Keegan Johnson and one of the best freshman classes in school history.

Kansas State opens the season Sept. 2 against Southeast Missouri State.


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