WMU News

WMU statement on contract talks with Coach Darnell

Dec. 22, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard and Keith Pretty, WMU General Counsel, are meeting this morning with Coach Gary Darnell to assess his current employment situation and his future with the University.

When Gary Darnell became head coach of the football program last December, the University offered him a six-year contract. The University has been unsuccessful so far in obtaining the coach's signature on a contract. After its initial offer, the proposed employment contract has been amended several times at the coach's request with the University meeting each of the coach's requests, including those for improved financial incentives.

At the time of the coach's initial employment, the University was determined to build a strong and successful football program and committed to significant fund-raising efforts for the enhancement of football facilities on campus. These efforts were successful, and construction is now under way. A very successful football season under Coach Darnell's leadership confirmed our hopes that we were on the way to building a championship team on this campus. However, the University firmly believes that such efforts need a sustained investment and require a minimum time commitment by all involved parties.

The continued presence of our current fine coaching staff on our campus appears to the University as highly desirable. We do believe that uncertainty about the presence of our coaching staff for the next seasons impacts negatively on current student athletes, recruitment of future student athletes, fund raising and fan participation.

With this in mind, the University is trying to bring stability and continuity to one of its central team sports by offering Coach Darnell a multi-year contract that contains practically all previous conditions, financial and otherwise, but with a liquidated damages clause that guarantees the coach's presence for at least the next three seasons. Such clauses are quite common in other Division IA programs. The overall length of the proposed contract (ending December 2002) is not affected.

The University hopes to have created a positive win-win situation. We want to keep Coach Darnell and his fine coaching staff with our program, but we need continuity as well as commitment to our students and our University.

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400