MIAMI ( – The Florida International University Panthers enjoyed unparalleled success in 2010 under head coach Mario Cristobal. The team was a co-champion in the Sun Belt Conference and won their first bowl game. Now, Cristobal is cashing in.

According to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald, Cristobal has signed an extension with FIU that will keep him under contract through June 2016. The new deal will raise Cristobal’s salary to $453,183 for the coming season.

In addition, Cristobal received a $50,000 signing bonus and will get a $50,000 signing bonus on June 30, 2012 if he’s still the team’s head coach. He’ll receive retention bonuses every June 30 if he remains with the team through his contract.

If Cristobal continues to win at FIU and becomes a candidate for a major Division I program, his buyout would be one year’s salary. If FIU fires him without cause, the school will owe the coach two year’s salary.

“It’s essentially a five-year contract, which is a tremendous help in recruiting,” Cristobal told the Herald. “You can tell recruits you’ll be around for their four years.”

FIU’s athletic director, Pete Garcia, was more than happy to get the deal done now before the team arrives to start fall practice this week.

“People don’t realize what a hard job he’s had the last four years, taking a program that was broken,” Garcia told Herald. “He didn’t have a weight room, didn’t have a stadium, didn’t have full scholarships. The program had probably the worst APR (Academic Progress Rate) in the country.”

Cristobal has improved the school’s record every season and in 2010 won the Little Caesar’s Bowl, by beating Toledo, 34-32.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)


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