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Howland gets a seven-year extension

October 04, 2007|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

UCLA basketball Coach Ben Howland, who has led the Bruins to consecutive Final Four appearances, agreed to a seven-year contract that will carry through the 2013-14 season.

His base salary this year will be $1.5 million and rise to $2 million over the course of the deal, according to a statement from UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. He could make another $235,000 annually in incentives.

Howland, 50, has said repeatedly since arriving at UCLA from Pittsburgh that there is no other place he'd rather coach. "This has always been my dream job," he said.

Under Howland, UCLA has won consecutive Pacific 10 Conference championships, and this year's team is ranked No. 1 in several preseason publications.

Speaking by telephone from the Atlanta airport Wednesday afternoon, Howland said the contract negotiations had been "not contentious."

While it seems some top-level coaches have juggled several potential job offers in the hopes of getting themselves a raise, Howland said he hadn't felt that necessary.

"I'm very lucky," he said. "I've got my dream job. I've got the best job in the country. We're paid very, very well and I know how lucky and blessed I am."

Howland said he had no urgent drive to be the highest-paid coach. "I'm only competitive that way in that I'd like to beat those coaches," he said.

Florida's Billy Donovan -- who flirted with both Kentucky and the NBA's Orlando Magic -- came away with a new deal paying him $3.5 million a year for the next six years. Michigan reportedly signed former West Virginia coach John Beilein to a six-year contract last spring that includes a $1.3-million salary each year plus unstated bonuses.

After being spurned by Donovan, Kentucky settled on former Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie and signed him to a seven-year deal with a $2.3-million base salary plus performance incentives that could add another $850,000 a year to the contract.

Even with a drunk-driving conviction and a firing from Cincinnati in his background, Bob Huggins took over at West Virginia with a five-year deal that calls for his salary to be more than $1 million by the third year.

"But how many people out there wake up every day and say they love what they do and have the passion for and real love of their job?" Howland said. "I get to work with the best and the brightest at UCLA.

"We get to recruit great kids, and that makes coaching very fun for me. I'm paid very competitively and I'm not going anywhere. That's what I tell our recruits."

diane.pucin@latimes.com

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