Ball State achieved a historic season in 2020, navigating a pandemic and fairly low preseason expectations to find their way to a Mid-American Conference title for the first time since 1996, and (perhaps more importantly) nabbing their first bowl win in program history against San Jose State in the Arizona Bowl.
As the 2021 season approaches, both Mike Neu and Ball State have reportedly come to an agreement regarding Neu’s contract, extending it until the 2025 season. The news was first reported by Yahoo! Sports’ Peter Thamel via Twitter on Thursday morning.
The report is yet to be confirmed officially by Ball State athletics.
Once confirmed, it would be the second contract extension in as many years for Neu, who was working under the terms of a three-year contract, which was set to end in 2022 after an extension agreed upon in June 2020. The extension was surprising to many in college football, as the Cardinals had gone 15-33 overall (8-24 in MAC play) over his first four seasons, and Neu was considered a hot seat candidate prior to the start of the season.
Ball State surpassed all reasonable expectations in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, losing the first game, but then going on a seven-game streak to finish 7-1 (6-1 MAC.) Ball State also finished the 2020 season with 13 players named to the postseason all-MAC teams, the most of any conference member, and picked up a MAC co-defensive player of the year winner in linebacker Brandon Martin.
Neu’s base salary, set at $453,000 per the Muncie Star-Press, is expected to see a raise from “outside sources” as part of the new deal. Per USA Today, Neu’s compensation prior to the extension was affordable, even by MAC standards, coming in at 11th of the 12 coaches in-conference, only ahead of Kent State’s Sean Lewis. It is as of yet unknown what the new compensation is expected to be.
Ball State will start their MAC title defense campaign against the Western Illinois Leathernecks on Thursday, September 2 at Scheumann Stadium before traveling to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions for their first FBS contest on Saturday, Sept. 11.