Talks between North Texas officials and Dan McCarney on a contract extension have picked up steam in the last few weeks and could result in a new deal before Christmas, athletic director Rick Villarreal said Wednesday.
McCarney signed a five-year contract with UNT on Dec. 8, 2010, and took over a program that had not won more than three games in a season in six years.
UNT has steadily improved since and is in the midst of a breakout season. The Mean Green finished the regular season with an 8-4 record after beating Tulsa 42-10 on Saturday.
The win snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Golden Hurricane, just one of several milestones UNT reached in its third season under McCarney.
UNT’s eight wins are its highest win total since 2003, while playing in a bowl this year — a milestone that seems like a foregone conclusion at this point — would be the Mean Green’s first since 2004.
McCarney is 17-19 at UNT.
“He has won 17 games in three years, which in the history of this institution rivals any coach in his first three years on the job,” Villarreal said. “He is also attracting top kids among his signees and those who have decided to transfer here.”
UNT won six out of its last seven regular-season games.
McCarney talked about the pride he feels in the program due to its progress on and off the field in his final midweek news conference of the regular season before UNT took on Tulsa.
“We feel good about where we could end up,” McCarney said. “This will be my 21st bowl game and there is no such thing as a bad bowl game.”
Villarreal said McCarney has made just as big an impact in the operation of the program off the field and in the perception of it in the community.
“You can talk about so many things coach McCarney has done,” Villarreal said. “He has improved things academically and with the way we go about strength and conditioning. Our kids are getting bigger and stronger. He also has a relationship with the community, has been able to get people on the bandwagon and get the program to the point where it needs to be.”
McCarney is paid a base salary of $475,000 under the terms of his current deal. He also receives a $35,000 payment at the completion of each season and a $35,000 stipend for appearing on UNT’s radio and television programs.
Villarreal said UNT first began discussions with McCarney and his agent on a contract extension about a year ago. Those talks became more serious as UNT put together a five-game winning streak, beginning with a win over Middle Tennessee on Oct. 12.
“We like what he is doing. It’s something that is definitely in the hopper,” Villarreal said of a contract extension. “I hope it is something that we can bring to fruition much sooner than later.”
BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.