Football coach Chip Kelly has signed a new four-year contract with UCLA.
Kelly was set to begin the final year of his original five-year contract with the university on Sunday.
“We are extremely appreciative of the entire UCLA administration for their support of our football program,” Kelly said in a press release. “We have a tremendous amount of gratitude for our players and staff. Their tireless work, and commitment to our vision has built a great foundation. We are excited to continue to build this program into something that makes the UCLA fanbase proud.”
The extension comes days after two of Kelly’s coordinators had officially departed the program to take jobs with other different universities, and another coordinator had reportedly resigned from his position.
All three coordinators had been with the program since Kelly’s arrival to Westwood in 2018.
In 2021, Kelly led the Bruins to their first winning season (8-4 overall, 6-3 Pac-12) during his tenure. UCLA became bowl eligible for the first time under Kelly but was forced to back out of the Holiday Bowl, just hours before kickoff, due to COVID-19 protocols.
The program had a promising start to the season that featured a win over LSU but stumbled out of the AP Top 25 Poll and began to lean toward another .500 season in October.
The Bruins went 3-0 in the month of November, which appeared to be enough to keep Kelly in Westwood and avoid the coaching carousel chaos.
Kelly was asked on several occasions about the status of his contract status but never wanted to address his contract publicly.
If the university wanted to go in a different direction, Kelly would’ve been owed a $9 million buyout.
The athletics department reported a $18.9 million deficit for the 2019 fiscal year, according to information obtained by Jon Wilner of The Mercury News. UCLA could’ve avoided paying the buyout if they kept Kelly employed through Jan. 15, the final day of his fourth year. Kelly’s fifth year didn’t include a buyout.
“This new contract represents the commitment, stability and investment needed to continue the upward trajectory of our football program,” UCLA Athletic Director Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “Since joining UCLA, our football team’s winning percentage has increased every year, including increased momentum in recruiting and strategic use of the transfer portal.”
The extension comes as a vote of confidence in a coach who went 16-25 in his first four seasons. The decision to keep Kelly offers some stability for the program.
Kelly will have to get to work replacing three key assistants: offensive coordinator Justin Frye, who left for Ohio State to become its associate head coach for offense and offensive line coach; special teams coordinator Derek Sage, who left to become Nevada’s offensive coordinator; and defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro, who has reportedly resigned.
Aside from the new openings on the coaching staff, roster management will be a top priority this offseason and something Kelly had talked about in late November.
Most of the Bruins’ draft-eligible players have made their future intentions clear while 12 other players have already left the program for the transfer portal.
Ten high school seniors signed during the early signing period. Kelly has stated he’ll consider exploring the transfer portal to use any remaining scholarships.
UCLA had used the transfer portal to its advantage over the past two years, bringing in quarterback Ethan Garbers (Washington), running back Zach Charbonnet (Michigan) and defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight (Kent State).
In December, the Bruins looked to have already landed a big commitment from highly touted quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who transferred out of Central Florida, but it was short lived. Gabriel flipped his commitment to Oklahoma, but on Monday UCLA’s four-year starting quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, announced he was returning for his final year of eligibility.
On Friday, Charbonnet joined Thompson-Robinson in saying he was staying for his senior season.