USC takes control of LA Coliseum, renovations coming

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The USC Trojans have finally gained full control of the Los Angeles Coliseum, their home stadium since 1923. It took years to get to this point but the Coliseum is now USC’s to manage and the school intends to restore the historic venue.

According to ESPN Los Angeles, the California Science Center’s governing board approved the final details in a lease agreement for the stadium, allowing USC to take control of management and operations of the stadium. The agreement in place grants the control to USC for the next 98 years (2111 if you are making plans) and will have the school move forward on plans to improve the stadium costing up to $100 million.

“We get to control our own destiny [at the Coliseum], which we didn’t before,” USC athletic director Pat Haden told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “But we are going to have to pay for the renovations that were supposed to be paid for by somebody else. So in some ways, it’s like picking up somebody else’s responsibility, but we do finally have control.”

USC will pay rent reported at $1 million per year but the school should start being able to turn a profit in the stadium by having more control of concessions and other sources of income related to the venue. The new changes may not be immediately noticeable, but the plans are there for USC.

“You won’t notice a lot this year because we just got control of it,” Haden said in the ESPN Los Angeles report. “There will be a few cosmetic things. The food will be better and easier to purchase, and it will be cleaner. Over the next year or so, we’ve got to develop a plan and a fundraising plan for what it’s going to look like, but I don’t think anything major is going to be taking place for another two years.”

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.