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West Virginia and Neal Brown have agreed to a one-year contract extension aimed at keeping the sixth-year coach in Morgantown through the 2027 season, according to the university. While the school did not officially release the adjusted terms of the deal, Brown said in a statement that his "first priority was retaining and rewarding our assistant coaches and support staff who have played such a critical role in our success." 

That falls in line with local reporting, which cites Brown's desire to reinvest in the program as a reason for the adjusted terms that include a small salary cut and a decreased buyout. 

The new four-year deal actually decreases what Brown's salary would have been over the next three years by a total of $400,000, according to MetroNews' Hoppy Kercheval. Instead of being under contract for $4.1 million in 2024, $4.2 million in 2025 and $4.4 million in 2026, Brown's new deal calls for a salary of $4 million in each of the next two seasons before a bump to $4.3 million in 2026 and then a raise to $4.4 for 2027, the extra year added to his contract. His buyout has also reportedly been dropped from 100% of the contract to 75% if he is fired at any point. 

Brown was one of the most popular candidates in the hot seat discussion heading into the 2023 season. CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd gave him a 5 out of 5 on his hot seat scale, noting that the program was coming off consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1978-79. The outlook for the Mountaineers success wasn't encouraging, either, so much so that the Big 12 media had Brown's group slated 14th -- dead last -- in the conference's preseason projected order of finish. 

Then Brown flipped the script, leading West Virginia to a 9-4 season that concluded with a Duke's Mayo Bowl win against North Carolina. He used the preseason snubs from the Big 12 media as motivation for his team, and they brought an edge to their early season schedule with a 4-1 start. Brown is now 31-29 with three bowl appearances in four seasons as West Virginia's coach, and with this new deal we see not only an official removal from any hot seat talk but an investment in the football program's future under his leadership. 

This kind of move is far from unprecedented, even at the highest levels. Jim Harbaugh famously took a paycut heading into the 2021 season with Michigan before on-field results dictated further adjustments to the deal, and Brown has likely identified how small adjustments to the financials could go a long way when it comes to staffing and resources elsewhere in the football program. West Virginia has a chance to assert itself as one of the top tier programs in the new-look Big 12, and if Brown has the support of the administration there's no reason to think the Mountaineers cannot achieve that goal.