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Bret Bielema signs new 6-year contract

The Illini head coach is staying in Champaign.

NCAA Football: Illinois at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Bret Bielema isn’t going anywhere.

Illinois locked in its head football coach Tuesday when it announced Bielema has signed a new six-year contract running through the 2028 season.

According to a news release, the agreement is pending University of Illinois Board of Trustees approval at its meeting in January.

Bielema was hired in late 2020 after the firing of Lovie Smith. In that time, he has turned Illinois into a contender in the Big Ten West and led the program to its first ranking in a decade.

“In his first two years as head coach of the Fighting Illini, Bret Bielema has led a resurgence of Illinois Football that had our team competing for a place in the Big Ten Championship Game and playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game,” said Director of Athletics Josh Whitman in a statement.

The deal comes on the heels of Bielema losing his defensive coordinator, Ryan Walters, to Purdue, where he was named the team’s next head coach.

Giving Illinois a sense of stability heading into Wednesday’s signing day had to play a big role into how this played out.

“I am proud of the progress we have made in two years and I could not be more excited about where our program is going,” Bielema said in a statement.

Bielema’s annual salary will be $6 million under the new deal. It includes several bonuses, including a $500,000 annual retention incentive.