Southern, Odums agree to extension

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Southern University Jaguars head coach Dawson Odums yells at players during the game between Jackson State University and Southern University on Saturday at A. W. Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Southern University Jaguars head coach Dawson Odums yells at players during the game between Jackson State University and Southern University on Saturday at A. W. Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Southern Athletic Director William Broussard knew another university was going to show interest in football coach Dawson Odums.

He knew it before Odums’ alma mater, North Carolina Central, called him at the beginning of the month to get permission to interview Odums.

He knew it before Southern defeated Jackson State 34-27 in double overtime to win the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship Dec. 7 in Houston.

So when Odums and his staff finished hosting recruits last weekend, Broussard was ready with a contract offer that he presented Tuesday to Odums’ agent, Burton Rocks.

Two days of negotiating ended Thursday morning when the coach agreed to a three-year extension to the one year remaining on his contract. His base salary increases 25 percent to $175,000 a year.

Odums’ $140,000 base salary this season was boosted by $52,500 in incentives that he earned. Broussard said the total incentive package shrinks from just under $60,000 to just under $50,000 as a trade-off for the increased base salary.

The agreement is subject to the approval of the SU System Board of Supervisors, to which Broussard will present the agreement at its January meeting.

“We didn’t just start thinking about this on the drive home from Houston,” Broussard said. “It was something that was in the works for quite some time.

“Any time a coach has success, you can guarantee that your fans are not the only people noticing it. There was strategizing even throughout the season.”

Odums was one of four candidates to interview with NCCU, visiting the Durham, N.C., campus last week. But Broussard said he never had a feeling that Odums — a native of Shelby, N.C., about a three-hour drive from NCCU — was looking to leave.

“I’ve had a number of people tell me recently, ‘You seem exceptionally calm considering everything that’s going on,’ ” Broussard said. “But the calmness emanated from the confidence I had that Coach Odums was going to be our head coach. He had given no indication that he wanted to leave.”

NCCU announced the hiring of South Alabama wide receivers coach Jerry Mack a few hours after Odums accepted Southern’s offer.

Odums was unavailable Thursday after having a previously scheduled, routine doctor’s visit. He’s scheduled to speak at a news conference at 10 a.m. Friday.

Broussard consulted with Southern Chancellor James Llorens throughout the negotiations.

“At this point, I have not been apprised of any resistance that would have me concerned,” Broussard said of the board’s vote. “All indications at this point are favorable.”

Broussard said locking up Odums for the long term was the first step in securing long-term success for the football program specifically and the athletic program as a whole. The Jaguars just ended a string of three consecutive losing seasons; they finished 9-4 and won their first SWAC title in 10 years.

“The next step is the budget process,” Broussard said. “There are some commitments that he has from me knowing what we have in the budget and knowing what plans I have in terms of facilities enhancement.”

Broussard also plans to address the assistant coaches’ contracts, which expire in June.

“I know how important this staff was,” Broussard said. “I know they are equally important, and I will work very closely with Coach Odums and, with the permission of my budget manager, we’ll work very closely on our budget process in the spring to do everything that we can to keep his staff in tact.”

Odums was promoted from defensive coordinator to interim head coach when Stump Mitchell was reassigned after an 0-2 start to the 2012 season. The Jaguars won their first game under Odums and finished 4-5 under him.

After the 2012 season, Broussard conducted a search for a permanent head coach before deciding the best candidate already had the job.

Southern lost its first two games again this season and was just 4-4 at the end of October before beginning its championship run, which included four straight regular-season wins before the title game.

“Obviously the successes we had this year were demonstrable, notable and meritorious,” Broussard said.

He cited not only “the competitive success that we have had on the field of play” but also the strides the program has made in developing players of “high character and discipline” as well as “the attendant performance that these student-athletes are showing in the classroom and as citizens.”

Broussard said the athletic department has experienced a “20-plus percent revenue increase” in the past two years. He said the football team’s challenge will be even greater next season as opponents gear up for the defending champions.

“It’s harder to defend a championship than it is to win one,” Broussard said. “We need to not rest on our laurels. We need to continue to grow.

“We need to do everything we can to continue to make Southern University athletics the most attractive option for future prospects, and we need to do everything we can for the student-athletes who are returning as defending champions next year to feel inspired and motivated to go after another championship in 2014.”