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Texas A&M names Mike Elko as new head football coach

By Caroline Wilburn, The Texas Tribune

Texas A&M names Mike Elko as new head football coach” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Texas A&M University has named Mike Elko as its new head football coach, university officials announced Monday.

The hire comes just two weeks after the university spent over $75 million to buy out former head coach Jimbo Fisher’s contract.

“Coach Mike Elko is one of the best leaders and coaches in college football and has had high-level success at each stop of his career. “He is known amongst coaching circles as one of the best defensive minds in the country,” A&M athletics director Ross Bjork said in a statement.

Elko has been the head coach at Duke for the past two seasons, leading the team to back-to-back bowl games. He served as the Texas A&M defensive coordinator and safeties coach from 2018 to 2021, assisting the team with four straight bowl trips and an overall record of 34-14.

“Director of Athletics Ross Bjork’s unwavering dedication to the success of our athletics program truly hits a high point with this hire,” A&M Interim President Mark A. Welsh III said in a statement. “Coach Elko understands that fostering the growth of our student-athletes goes well beyond the playing field. He recognizes a successful athletics program requires nurturing athletic prowess while simultaneously instilling invaluable life skills and preparing them for facing challenges that will come after college.”

Information about the duration of Elko’s contract and how much he’ll be paid was not immediately available, but will need approval from the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

Elko’s hiring puts an end to a national search to replace Fisher, whose buyout was paid for by donor dollars from the school’s 12th Man Foundation and athletic department funds. The buyout is the most money ever owed to a football coach.

Fisher’s initial $75 million contract, signed in 2017, guaranteed him 10 years at the university and was extended another four years in 2021. Before his departure, Fisher earned an annual salary of $9 million.

In contrast, Steve Sarkisian, University of Texas at Austin head football coach, is set to make at least $34.2 million throughout his six-year contract.

The decision to fire Fisher came after the team’s 35-38 loss to the University of Mississippi. Ahead of Elko’s hiring, A&M Assistant Coach Elijah Robinson was named the team’s interim head coach for the final two games of the season.

“After very careful analysis of all the components related to Texas A&M football, I recommended to President Welsh and then Chancellor Sharp that a change in the leadership of the program was necessary in order for Aggie football to reach our full potential and they accepted my decision,” Bjork said in a statement earlier this month. “We appreciate Coach Fisher’s time here at Texas A&M and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Disclosure: Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University System and University of Texas at Austin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/11/27/texas-am-football-mike-elko/.

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