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UND to keep football coach Mussman through 2015 season

GRAND FORKS -- University of North Dakota head football coach Chris Mussman will start in a new league with a fresh contract.

With the first season of the Big Sky Conference on the horizon, UND announced Monday that Mussman has signed a three-year contract extension through the 2015 season.

The base salary for the first season of the deal is worth $114,612. The deal, which also features bonus opportunities, includes two options that could expand the deal through 2017.

Mussman, who is 23-20 as a head coach, is entering his fifth season at the helm and 14th overall with UND. Mussman's four years as head coach also coincided with UND's trying transition from NCAA Division II to Division I.

"It's a good feeling," Mussman said. "It's a feeling of confidence in our staff and players. It's a feeling of confidence in our direction as a program."

Although the deal offers Mussman some security, he said there's no opportunity to relax. He understands the fine line between UND's 3-8 season in 2010 and the 8-3 campaign in 2011.

"Every year is a challenge," he said. "The room for error is so small at this level."

UND capped 2011 with a four-game winning streak and a share of the Great West Conference title in dramatic fashion, rallying from 20 points down in the fourth quarter to stun South Dakota 38-37 in the regular-season finale at the Alerus Center.

"I don't think there's any question Chris has done a solid job advancing UND through the transition," UND athletic director Brian Faison said. "He's found ways to win. The way they pulled out that last game was representative of exactly that."

For his efforts in 2011, Mussman was named the GWC Coach of the Year and was one of three FCS finalists for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. He was also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award. The Sioux finished the season ranked No. 23 in the The Sports Network/ poll, which marked the first time in its Division I history that UND was ranked in a final national poll.

Mussman, along with his wife Shelley, has two children -- Jake (15) and Jackson (13).

"If you would have told me when I moved here, I'd be here 14 years, I'd never believe it," Mussman said. "This is very exciting for us as a family. I'm very fortunate to have only been two places. I wanted the security to say our kids have the opportunity to live in one place. That's very special to me."

Prior to UND, Mussman spent the previous eight seasons at Minnesota State-Mankato. Mussman is an Iowa State graduate. He was a starting offensive lineman and team captain for the Cyclones in 1990.

UND will open the 2012 season at the Alerus Center on Aug. 30 against South Dakota School of Mines. The team will play its inaugural Big Sky Conference game on the road at Sacramento State on Sept. 22.