Regents to vote on Taggart’s contract Friday

Brad Stephens

Willie Taggart is one final step away from officially becoming WKU’s highest-paid employee.

The WKU Board of Regents will on Friday vote whether or not to approve a contract that calls for the Toppers’ head football coach to be paid $475,000 annually.

In base salary alone Taggart will make more than $100,000 more than WKU’s next-highest paid employee, President Gary Ransdell ($361, 104 per year).

But Taggart will make more than that if he reaches certain benchmarks, per the contract.

Incentive bonuses for Taggart include winning eight games in a season, being named conference or national coach of the year or seeing season ticket sales numbers reach 10,000.

Before receiving the raise Taggart, who is entering his third year as the Toppers’ head coach, was paid $225,000 annually as part of his original contract he signed upon being hired in 2009.

The Regents’ Executive Committee addressed the new contract at their December meeting, and motioned to approve the deal.

Ransdell said Wednesday he expects Taggart’s deal to be passed by the full Board.

“I’ve heard nothing to the contrary,” Ransdell said. “Again, Division I football is a dynamic that if we’re going to do, we’ve got to embrace it, we have to be competitive and we’ve got in a manner that keeps us competitive.

“Coach Taggart is doing things the right way, has turned the corner and is putting this program in a position to be successful going forward.”

WKU went 7-5 under Taggart in 2011, winning seven of its last eight games, including its final seven Sun Belt Conference games.

The Toppers finished second to league champion Arkansas State in the final Sun Belt standings.

Taggart is 9-15 overall in his two years in charge of the Toppers.

The former All-American WKU quarterback inherited a team that finished the 2009 season 0-12 when he accepted the job.

Taggart was co-offensive coordinator for the Toppers’ 2002 Division I-AA national championship team, working under former Head Coach Jack Harbaugh.

The Palmetto, Fla., native left WKU in 2007 to serve as running backs coach at Stanford under Harbaugh’s son, Jim.

When Taggart returned to Bowling Green in 2009 he took many of the fundamentals and schemes of Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford offense with him.

During his two years at the helm of the Toppers, Taggart’s teams have relied on the power running abilities of now-graduated running back Bobby Rainey, who left WKU as the school’s all-time leading rusher (4,542 yards).

Taggart also signed the Sun Belt’s top-rated recruiting classes in 2010 and 2011, according to analysts.