- Associated Press - Thursday, April 14, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Louisville coach Bobby Petrino believes his new contract will help him with recruiting because now potential players know he’s committed to the Cardinals.

“You (now) can talk to the parents and the player and say, ‘I’ll be your coach throughout your entire career,’” Petrino said Thursday at a news conference announcing his seven-year, $30.625 million deal. “That means a lot. I feel good about the way we’re building our program, but we know it’s very competitive out there.”

The contract runs through 2023 and Petrino could be paid an annual salary of up to $4.375 million with incentives.

Athletic director Tom Jurich announced earlier this spring that he would work with Petrino to renegotiate his contract. The 55-year-old coach is 58-18 in two stints with the Cardinals. Louisville is 17-9 with two bowl appearances in Petrino’s current tenure.

Jurich said that “Bobby has earned this” and added that the school was going to do everything possible to ensure Petrino’s happiness and continuity with the program.

“There’s a very, very small handful of great coaches in this country,” Jurich said. “Obviously, we have one of them. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure he stays with us and finishes his career with us and enjoys his time here.”

Athletics spokesman Kenny Klein said the written document remains to be finalized and signed.

Petrino, who is 100-39 overall as a college coach including stops at Western Kentucky and Arkansas, said he’s happy for the long-term deal that provides the chance to build the program toward its goal of competing for a national championship.

Louisville is coming off an 8-5 finish and Music City Bowl victory that didn’t seem possible after starting 0-3 for the first time since 1984.

Jurich praised the perseverance of Petrino and the Cardinals for surviving that rough patch to finish strong and earn the program’s sixth straight bowl appearance. Louisville returns a number of key players next season including mobile sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson.

“I do like where we’re at right now,” Petrino said. “I really think as a program we’re making strides in the right direction.”

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