The Texas A&M System Board of Regents on Thursday authorized A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin to negotiate pay raises and extensions with head football coach Kevin Sumlin and his coaching staff.
The authorization comes nearly two weeks after the university announced an agreement for new compensation packages for the entire staff, pending board approval. In a news release, A&M said that there is an agreement in place on key contractual terms, such as compensation, but there are some additional details still under review before the contracts can actually be signed.
Until that time no numbers can be disclosed, said vice president of marketing and communications Jason Cook.
"Coach Sumlin and the Aggie football coaching staff accomplished a great deal in our first year in the Southeastern Conference," athletic director Eric Hyman said in a prepared statement. "They are laying the foundation for continued success in the most challenging conference in the country. There is a lot of positive momentum across the campus and this will help us continue in that forward direction."
During his first season at the helm, Sumlin led the Aggies to their first top-5 finish since 1956. The Aggies also posted only their fourth 11-win season, defeated eventual national champion Alabama and boasted the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy in Johnny Manziel.
Sumlin was among the lowest paid coaches in the SEC in 2012. With recent pay bumps and hirings, Sumlin's $2 million salary had him tied with Kentucky's Mark Stoops and Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze as the lowest paid coach in the conference.
Loftin said Thursday that Sumlin's standing among his fellow coaches was definitely discussed during negotiations.
"The position their compensation package has in our conference is an issue of discussion, no question about it," he said.
Sumlin was reportedly targeted by a few NFL teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles eventually hired former Oregon coach Chip Kelly for five years and $32.5 million -- or $6.5 million annually. Loftin said he isn't worried about NFL teams descending on College Station on a yearly basis because it's just part of the game.
"These things happen throughout college sports all the time. I think there is a vast difference between coaching a college and pro team. Coaches make choices which aren't necessarily monetarily based about where they want to have their careers," he said. "It doesn't always come down to a pure monetary issue for a coach. It may come down to where that coach wants to be, what kind of environment they want to be in."
Loftin said he and Sumlin have never discussed whether he has aspirations to coach at the next level. He also said that, as of now, Sumlin is quite content where he is.
"Everything I have heard from Coach Sumlin has been positive," he said. "He's happy at Texas A&M University and enjoying what he's doing right now."
Loftin also said he was extremely pleased that these deals are close to being done and that A&M's football program can continue moving in the right direction.
"I think all of us believe a lot of things came together to make this season what it was," Loftin said. "We don't want to do anything that would change the trajectory of the program. We hope this will be the beginning of a very successful, sustained football program here at A&M."