Kansas rewards Leipold with extension through 2027 season

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas added an additional year to football coach Lance Leipold‘s contract Thursday that will keep him on the sideline through the 2027 season, a reward for a two-win first year that raised hopes for a long-awaited turnaround.

Leipold was hired last year, shortly after the Jayhawks parted with Les Miles following a winless season and amid sexual harassment allegations from his time at LSU. And despite never having an opportunity to put together a full recruiting class or working with his team in spring football, Leipold’s progress was evident in a late-season upset of Texas.

Leipold’s original contract was a $16.5 million, six-year pact that paid him $2.2 million in its initial season with annual $200,000 increases. He also would earn $50,000 for finishing in the Top 25, earning Big 12 coach of the year or winning seven regular-season games; $75,000 for reaching a certain academic benchmark; $100,000 for qualifying for a bowl game; and $500,000 if the Jayhawks would play for a national title.

“This is a statement about our exceptional confidence in Lance, his outstanding staff and the unlimited potential of Kansas football,” said Jayhawks athletic director Travis Goff, who was hired shortly before he chose Leipold as his coach.

“When you consider he and his staff did not arrive until May (2021), and therefore did not have a chance to coach our guys until August last year, the 2021 season could be considered `Year 0,”‘ Goff explained. “Given the progress that’s been made both on and off the field in such short order, I could not feel more strongly about the trajectory of this program.”

Kansas opens this season Friday night against Tennessee Tech.

Leipold was a popular pick among Kansas fans because of his Midwest pedigree, small-town roots and ability to build a program. He won six Division III national championships in eight seasons at Wisconsin-Whitewater, then proved he could win at the Division I level when he spent three years rebuilding Buffalo, followed by three straight bowl games.

Along with upsetting the Longhorns last season, the Jayhawks put a scare into Oklahoma and lost one-possession games to TCU and West Virginia – further evidence that the culture Leipold was trying to build had taken root.

Earlier this week, Leipold showed his affinity for the Jayhawks by announcing an endowment fund established along with his wife to provide financial support for an on-field graduate assistant for the football program.

“It shows, I think, our commitment and our appreciation,” Leipold said. “We’re going to need a lot from everybody and you have to do it yourself sometimes. We’ve tried to do certain things at each stop because we think it’s important. The timing of the year, that didn’t play a part in our thought process at all. We’re just happy we could do it.”

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.