Sources are reporting that Ball State head coach Pete Lembo has signed a five-year contract extension with the Cardinals. The 43 year old Lembo, who has been linked to several head coaching jobs in power conferences dating back to last November, will become the second highest paid coach in the MAC, behind only Ohio's Frank Solich.
"Since I arrived at Ball State, I have spoken of our coaches building programs the right way to achieve sustained success," Ball State director of intercollegiate athletics Bill Scholl said. "This contract extension recognizes the exemplary work Pete has accomplished over the past three years and the direction our football program is heading. Our record has improved every year in his tenure and the culture Pete has created within his program is one of the best in the conference."
Lembo received a $79,000 raise, setting his salary at $475,000 annually. Additionally Lembo will have an administrative role with the university. The fourth year head coach received the title of associate athletic director.
Since arriving in Muncie, Lembo increased the win total for the Cardinals in each of the last three seasons. Ball State is the only football program in the country that can make that claim. In 2013, Lembo led the Cardinals to a 10-3 overall recorded that included a win at ACC foe Virginia. The Cardinals earned a berth in the Go Daddy Bowl, where they fell to Arkansas State, 23-20.
Recognizing his promotion to offensive coordinator, former Ball State quarterback Joey Lynch also received a bump in pay from $78,500 to $118,500 annually.
Lembo's extension is sure to offer a measure of relief to Cardinals fans who were sure the Ball State coach would be swept up by a power conference. Ball State is still in search of the first bowl win in school history. Lembo's contract extension includes a buyout that is equal to one year's salary if it happens before Cardinal bowl game. If after, that price drops to $250,000.
"He's a fascinating combination of seeing the big picture and also not losing sight of the details," Scholl said. "So many of us tend to be one way or the other. He's really good at understanding the big picture while not losing sight of the little things. That's a very important kind of skillset that he brings to it."