Board votes on presidential candidate, football coach contract

Jamie Williams

The Board of Regents unanimously approved Tim Caboni as the 10th president of WKU and approved Mike Sanford’s head coach contract  on Friday.

Caboni was announced as the preferred candidate for the presidency on Jan. 18 and spent last week participating in forums with students, faculty and staff on campus.

“Above all, we knew that the 10th president would also have to have a track record signifying a passion for student success and academic excellence,” Regent Phillip Bale said.


Caboni took to Twitter to celebrate his appointment, tweeting, “Humbled to have been named the 10th president of @wku. We will work together as a university community to inspire, elevate and transform.”

The board also voted to approve the contract for football head coach Mike Sanford. The contract will be in effect for at least four years, with Sanford’s base salary set at $800,000. Sanford will be eligible to receive bonuses depending on the football team’s success.

Some regents expressed concern over the salary amount, saying WKU is judged based on what it pays certain people, while others agrued athletics play a large role in publicizing the university.

“We lose some of our best people because of our inability to be competitive in the marketplace,” Faculty Regent Barbara Burch said. “And send a message that our faculty and our staff are valued in ways that that becomes a priority.”

“I don’t envision us moving off of that number by very much,” Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said. “I think that’s a fair and healthy number.”

If Sanford chooses to terminate the contract before March 1, 2018, he will be obligated to pay $1.5 million to the university. Sanford’s termination fee decreases each year until after March 1, 2020, when the fee becomes $600,000.

Chief Facilities Officer Bryan Russell gave the board a construction update for several on-campus projects including the new science facility and parking structure. Russell said Ogden College Hall will house 36 labs and a 300-seat auditorium. Parking Structure 3 will have 679 parking spaces, adding a net gain of 608 spaces.

Russell also announced a planned renovation to the College Heights Foundation building.

The board approved three new certificates and degrees proposed last meeting: an Education Specialist degree in Gifted Education and Talent Development and graduate      certificates in both Advanced Behavioral Management and College and Career Readiness.

The board also approved a motion to rename the Honors College at WKU to The Dixie and Peter Mahurin Honors College. The Mahurins are both alumni of WKU and were   WKU’s Philanthropists of the Year in 2011.

The board voted to table the first reading of changes to its bylaws, including a change to make the Board Chairperson the only member with the authority to speak for the board. The bylaws also include several changes to the board’s committees and the creation of a new Enrollment Committee.

“I don’t know that we’ve had enough time, in my opinion, to think about this because these bylaws are the governance of this board,” Regent John Ridley said while advocating against a first reading.

Ridley was concerned that the changes to the bylaws — specifically making the Chairman the sole voice of the board — would give the Chair too much power over the organization.

“We’re not talking about how we’re doing business now,” Ridley continued. “When you change bylaws you’re talking about how we’re going to do business in four years, five years, after a lot of our terms are gone.”

The board plans to call a special meeting in the near future in order to have a first reading of the bylaw changes.

Finally, the Director of Student Financial Assistance Cindy Burnette delivered a presentation over student loan numbers during the 2015-16 year. Burnette said during 2015-16, 18,675 WKU students received around $200 million in loans, scholarships, grants and student employment in order to pay for college. She also reported 29.7 percent of WKU undergraduates without a bachelor’s degree (12,573 students) fall under the poverty line.

Burnette said during 2015-16, WKU undergraduate debt amounted to around $28,000 per student — a figure which has doubled from around $14,000 in 2006-07.

The second quarterly Board of Regents meeting will take place April 28.

Reporter Jamie Williams can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]