COLLEGE PARK -- University of Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger announced yesterday that head football coach Joe Krivak has signed a new, four-year contract, the length of which both parties called critical to recruiting and completing the process of rebuilding the program.
Krivak, 55, will make a base salary of $94,000 per year, but will be evaluated at the end of the third year. All four years of his contract, though, are guaranteed. In his previous four years at Maryland, Krivak made a base salary of $91,000 while compiling an 18-25-1 record.
"It's always been my administrative style to evaluate after the third year in a four-year contract," said Geiger. "That's when we'll talk about the program, where it's headed and what is needed.
"But it's clear to me that anything less than four years right now would not have been a real commitment," said Geiger. "We want to make a statement to the community that we are serious about building this program and the coach has our broad-based support, especially in the area of recruiting."
Krivak said yesterday that he stressed only getting a four-year contract during the three days of meetings with Geiger last week. Anything less, Krivak said, might have hampered the program.
"The key to any program is getting players," said Krivak. "I feel that we have done well the past couple of seasons, and I really like our freshman class. They are the kind of student-athletes we can use to build our program.
"I know with our schedule we can get the quality athletes, and I know we can offer them a quality education," said Krivak. "But mom and dad [parents of recruits] are also looking for stability, and I hope they can feel comfortable with me. Hopefully, people know what Joe Krivak is about and that he'll be around for some time."
According to Krivak and assistant coach Kurt Van Valkenburgh, Maryland lost a couple of quality recruits last year because Krivak had one year remaining on his contract. Krivak tried to get a one-year extension before the recruiting season from then-athletic director Lew Perkins, but his request was denied. Krivak said the denial cost him at least three possible quarterbacks who figured, if he were not rehired, a new coach might abandon Maryland's passing offense. Maryland recruits in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and parts of New England.
"We didn't have to tell the recruits about the coach having one year; all the other coaches from other programs kept bringing it up," said Van Valkenburgh. "It was definitely a problem. It made recruiting tough."
Still, Krivak's past two recruiting years have been successful. Three recruits from 1989 have started for the Terps already, including redshirt freshman H-back Frank Wycheck, who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in receptions for most of season.
Krivak used three true freshmen this season,including halfback Mark Mason, who, against Virginia, gave the Terps the breakaway threat they haven't had since Krivak became head coach.
"Right now, everything looks good," said Van Valkenburgh. "Everything is very positive, and the light is shining. The university is already working on constructing a new stadium, and the concrete is out there. It's not one of those maybe deals anymore.
"So when you bring a recruit here, you can show him the facilities, talk about the schedule and you can talk about the coach who doesn't plan on leaving. Joe is one of the few coaches who actually likes it at his school and plans to stay. Some coaches just want to win and move on to bigger things."
The Poulan-Weed Eater Independence Bowl, in which Maryland (6-5) will play Louisiana Tech (8-3) Dec. 15, should serve as a recruiting tool, too.
"There's no secret about that; the game is a springboard," said Krivak, who had his first winning regular season and the school's first since 1985.
The signing of Krivak could lure blue-chip quarterback John Kaleo of Montgomery College, a junior college in Rockville, to Maryland. According to members of the Terps athletic department, Kaleo was waiting to see if the university re-signed Krivak. Kaleo, 6 feet, 200 pounds, has completed 185 of 304 passes this season for 2,936 yards, with 32 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Geiger said he had contacted no other coaches about the Maryland job, but did say he had a "hypothetical" list if he and Krivak had not reached an agreement.
Geiger also used the input of university president William E. Kirwan in his decision to bring back Krivak. Geiger said Kirwan attended one of the meetings with Krivak.
"Basically, we all agreed to the same components that are needed to make a strong football program," said Geiger, who denied that the Terps' 35-30 upset of then-No. 8 Virginia in the season finale was the key factor in Krivak's return.
"This is a reflection of the belief and appreciation we have for our football coach," said Geiger.
Geiger said he interviewed at least 20 players last week about Krivak.
Cornerback Scott Rosen said: "I'm not that surprised he was re-signed. I've been here four years with this coaching staff, and I wanted to finish out my career with them. Plus, it's all starting to mesh together at Maryland. We had a winning record, we beat Virginia and we're going to a bowl. Now, we got the same coach back, and I think we're over the hump."
"Coach Krivak has worked very hard at becoming a head coach," wide receiver Barry Johnson said. "I'm glad he's back, and I'm sure he'll be successful."
Krivak said: "Maryland is my home, and I want the challenge of continuing to build our program. I'm delighted that I will be given this opportunity."
* Tickets for Maryland's Independence Bowl game against Louisiana Tech will go on sale today at the Maryland ticket office.