If Florida Atlantic opens its long-planned new football stadium in 2010, Howard Schnellenberger will be on the sideline.
The 74-year-old coach had his contract extended Wednesday through the 2010 season, a reward from the Boca Raton, Fla., school's board of trustees after leading the Owls to their first Sun Belt Conference championship last year. There is a provision in the deal that could allow it to be extended through 2011 if the facility is not completed until then.
``Howard has built the football program into a bowl champion in record time,'' FAU athletic director Craig Angelos said in a statement. ``FAU wants him to serve at the team's helm through its next historic phase, the construction of our on-campus stadium.''
Schnellenberger, who led both Miami and Louisville to national prominence before taking over at FAU, makes about $350,000 annually, one of the top salaries for football coaches in the Sun Belt. He led the Owls to an 8-5 record last season, which was just their seventh and only their third as a member of the Division I Bowl Subdivision.
He said the 30,000-seat facility, which could eventually be expanded to 40,000, is on target to open in two years. He has been lobbying for the facility since he was hired to start FAU's program a decade ago.
``We've been talking about it since the day I got there because there was no stadium on the 1,000 acres we have there in Boca Raton,'' Schnellenberger said earlier this month at the Florida state football media days. ``We'll start the architectural work in about six months. That would give us about 18 months to build it.''
Under Schnellenberger, the Owls were the only team in the state of Florida to win a bowl game last season, after beating Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl - a win that gave the coach a 5-0 mark in postseason games in his college career.
``I'm delighted with the extension and the opportunity that it gives me to continue in the next stage of this program's development,'' Schnellenberger said.

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