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Fernandez cashes in

Jose Fernandez is no longer one of the lowest-paid coaches in women’s college basketball.

Fernandez, who was due to make $88,200 in the final year of his three-year contract this season, signed a new five-year contract on Monday worth $800,000.

Under the new deal, Fernandez, 33, will earn an annual base salary of $125,000, plus incentives. Fernandez will receive a $5,000 car allowance and his TV and radio appearances compensation will double from $5,000 to $10,000. Fernandez will also receive a membership at the Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club and $10,000 each time the Bulls reach the NCAA Tournament. The contract takes effect July 1.

“I’m very excited to be at USF for the next five years,” Fernandez said. “I’m also extremely pleased with the commitment that the athletic department has made to our program as we enter the Big East Conference next season.”

Fernandez arrived at USF in 2000, replacing Jerry Ann Winters, who had been fired over accusations of racial discrimination. The team finished 4-24 in Fernandez’s first season but, with top-notch recruiting, has progressed steadily since.

USF had its most successful season ever in 2004-05, finishing 21-11 and making the Women’s NIT for the second straight year. Before the 2003-04 season, the Bulls had never made the postseason.

“We are pleased that Jose Fernandez will lead our women’s basketball program for the next five years and into the future as we enter the Big East Conference,” Athletic Director Doug Woolard said. “Jose has done a tremendous job moving the program forward not just regionally, but on a national level as well.”

Fernandez signed Sarasota Riverview’s Shantia Grace in November. Grace, a guard, is ranked by as the best player in Florida and the 66th best player in the nation by the All Star Girls Report. She will be part of Fernandez’s third Top-40 nationally ranked recruiting classes.