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University of Texas regents approve football coach Steve Sarkisian's $34.2 million contract

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Sarkisian excited about future of Longhorns' program (2:40)

Steve Sarkisian breaks down his team's progress in recruiting and development since he's been hired as head coach. (2:40)

AUSTIN, Texas -- University of Texas System regents on Thursday approved a six-year, $34.2 million guaranteed contract for new Longhorns football coach Steve Sarkisian.

The regents also approved more than $21 million in guaranteed contracts for Sarkisian's staff. Three of his top assistants got three-year guaranteed contracts worth more than $1 million annually. The highest-paid in that group will be defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski at $1.7 million per year.

Sarkisian was hired in early January to replace Tom Herman, who was fired with three seasons and more than $15 million left on his guaranteed contract. Herman went 32-18 in four seasons but had failed to win a Big 12 championship and was embroiled in a campus controversy over some players' refusal to sing the school song "The Eyes of Texas."

Sarkisian, who has the strong backing of board of regents chairman Kevin Eltife, has said his players will sing the song "proudly."

Sarkisian, 46, is a former head coach at Washington and Southern California, and was the offensive coordinator the last two seasons at Alabama, which won the 2020 national championship.

His starting salary at Texas will be $5.2 million, escalating to $6.2 million in the final year.

Sarkisian's contract also includes 20 hours' use of a private plane annually, $250,000 in relocation expenses, an a one-time payment of $1.2 million on Dec. 31, 2024, if he is still the Texas coach. The contract also includes non-guaranteed annual performance incentives worth nearly $1 million.

Sarkisian is Texas' fourth head coach since the program's most recent Big 12 championship in 2009. Since then, Texas has fired Mack Brown -- the only coach to lead the program to a national championship (2005) in 50 years -- Charlie Strong and Herman.