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November 27, 2006

Board of Trustees approves Dantonio

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Finally. Amid television cameras and tape recorders at the Clara Bell Smith Academic Center, Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon and the MSU Board of Trustees on Monday morning unanimously voted in Mark Dantonio as the Spartans' 24th head football coach.

The vote ended weeks of speculation as to who would be tapped to replace John L. Smith, who was fired Nov. 1. Michigan State lost its last four games this season to finish 4-8 overall and 1-7 in Big Ten play. In four seasons under Smith, MSU went 22-26 (12-20 in Big Ten).

Dantonio, a former MSU assistant coach under both Nick Saban and Bobby Williams, just completed his third season as the head coach at Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats to a 7-5 record this season. He is supposed to be in East Lansing for a noon press conference.

Dantonio was given a five-year rolling contract with a base salary of $600,000. The total yearly package is worth $1.1 million. He also received a $200,000 signing bonus. The salary places Dantonio in the bottom half of the Big Ten in terms of base salary, although there are incentives in place for him to increase his earnings. Simon called it a "performance-based" contract.

With the board members seated at a table on the stage of the Smith Center, Simon thanked them for attending. Trustees Donald Nugent and Dolores Cook were unable to be there, but were in attendance via conference call.

"There is a motion before you to recommend Mark Dantonio as the head football coach at Michigan State University," Simon said to the board. "The contract date is effective Nov. 27, 2006 through Jan. 14, 2012.

"Typically, one goes through a process and then sorts through all of the candidates and then comes out with one at the end. In this process everyone seemed to have a candidate going into the process, and had lots of reasons why that individual should be selected."

Simon then thanked the board and the search committee members - athletics director Ron Mason, associate athletics director Mark Hollis, basketball coach Tom Izzo and former MSU football player Alan Haller - for "really stepping back and looking at the criteria what's best for Michigan State University."

Simon outlined a number of traits that she and the board used in choosing a coach, adding that Dantonio "best matched all of our characteristics ... of the Spartans."

With Cincinnati not finishing its regular season until this past Saturday - a 26-23 win at UConn - Simon said protocol prevented MSU from contacting Dantonio until that night. Simon then met with Dantonio on Sunday morning and the contract was completed by 5 p.m.

Mason, Hollis, Izzo and an MSU financial advisor all addressed the board separately, with Mason calling Dantonio "the best coach we could have selected for Michigan State."

Hollis, who was exhaustive in his research of potential coaching candidates, credited Dantonio for building a "network" in the coaching ranks, adding that Dantonio "has the personality that fits Michigan State."

According to Izzo, Dantonio "was dying to be here, and he understands the lay of the land."

With Dantonio's extensive Midwestern background he is expected to hit the ground running in recruiting. The contact period for recruiting began yesterday.


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