football Edit

JMU Retains Assistants; Kirkpatrick Gets Multi-Year Deal

James Madison quarterback Bryan Schor (right) talks with offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick during the Dukes' national championship victory last month in Frisco, Texas.
Associated Press

HARRISONBURG – The 2016 FCS National Champions are doing their best to recreate the same success in 2017.

In January, James Madison coach Mike Houston signed a restructured contract that upgraded his pay from $300,000 per year through 2020 to $375,000 per year through 2021.

After he agreed on his new deal, he said he was confident his staff of assistant coaches “would be taken care of” by the school.

Less than a month removed from signing his new deal and less than two weeks away from the start of spring practice in Harrisonburg, Houston’s entire staff of assistant coaches have been retained, JMU assistant athletic director for communications Kevin Warner said.

Offensive coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick signed a new three-year extension at $140,000 annually on Monday. The deal runs through Jan. 31, 2020.

When initially hired on a one-year, $90,000 deal last winter, Kirkpatrick was tasked with creating an offensive system that Houston envisioned. Houston wanted to utilize a power-run game out of the spread and Kirkpatrick made it come to fruition.

Incorporating elements of the air-raid offense, the run-pass option and some power-blocking schemes, Kirkpatrick was the architect for the nation’s second-ranked scoring (46.7 points per game) offense, third-ranked total (507.5 yards per game) offense and fourth-ranked rushing (275 yards per game) offense.

Under Kirkpatrick’s tutelage, quarterback Bryan Schor was the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year, the Dudley Award Winner and the College Football Performance Awards FCS National Performer of the Year.

The $50,000 jump in pay for Kirkpatrick is the largest for any assistant on Houston’s staff.

Defensive coordinator Bob Trott signed an addendum to his original contract on Monday as well. Trott gets a $10,000 raise, pushing his pay from $130,000 per year to $140,000.

Trott’s initial contract took him through January 2019. His restructured contract keeps him at JMU through January 2020.

Trott helped Houston turn the Dukes’ defense into one of the best across the FCS. JMU led the country in interceptions with 21 and held the nation’s top-scoring offense, Sam Houston State, to seven points in a 65-7 FCS playoff quarterfinal victory over the Bearkats.

Run-game coordinator and tight ends coach Bryan Stinespring, running backs coach De’Rail Sims, wide receivers coach Drew Dudzik, defensive line coach Jeff Hanson, cornerbacks coach Tripp Weaver and inside linebackers coach Byron Thweatt were all given new one-year deals.

A former longtime Virginia Tech assistant, Stinespring gets the largest raise for any assistant on a one-year deal, going from a $50,000 to $85,000.

Sims ($64,000 from $60,000), Hanson ($73,000 from $65,000), Dudzik ($54,500 from $50,000), Hanson ($73,000 from $65,000), Weaver ($67,000 from $55,000) and Thweatt ($84,000 from $80,000) all saw increases in pay, according to their contracts.

Offensive line coach Jamal Powell ($65,000) and special teams coordinator John Bowers ($70,000) are both back on contracts that remain unchanged from last season.