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Pa. universities, coaches’ union announce tentative contract


Leaders of Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities and the union representing 350 non-faculty coaches announced a tentative four-year contract Thursday, two days before the current pact was set to expire.

Full-time coaches in the State System of Higher Education would receive a one-time $1,250 cash payment at the beginning of the 2007-08 school year under the agreement, followed by annual raises in January amounting to 9 percent over four years.

The coaches had threatened to strike Sunday if negotiations did not yield a new contract before Saturday, the expiration date of the current contract, said Pat Heilman, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties.

“The coaches, while not delighted with the salary offer … were satisfied that they had made some progress from where the state system was last week,” Heilman said.

The state system schools are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and West Chester universities.

They are members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, a Division II league that is expanding to include private schools Gannon and Mercyhurst.

The coaches’ new contract, which would expire June 30, 2011, also would allow them to receive merit-based increases in the second, third and fourth years. Beginning in July 2009, the minimum salary would increase from $35,000 to $37,500 for head coaches and from $30,000 to $32,500 for assistant coaches.

Other elements of the deal, such as a proposal to create a wellness program, will not be addressed until contract negotiations for the system’s 5,500 university professors are completed, both sides said in a joint statement. It was not immediately clear when a ratification vote would take place.

The professors’ current contract also expires Saturday, and the two sides met Thursday for the first of three scheduled days of negotiations.

–Associated Press

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