|With three straight wins to close the season, Justin Fuente led Memphis to its best record since 2008. (US Presswire)|
Memphis coach Justin Fuente has received a one-year extension on his contract, the school announced on Wednesday.
Fuente led the Tigers to a 4-8 finish in 2012, his first season as a head coach. The former TCU defensive coordinator appears to be turning around a struggling program just in time for Memphis's move to the Big East this fall. Fuente's new deal, which now runs through 2017, is a sign of commitment from the administration.
"Justin Fuente has met or exceeded every expectation we had for him during his first 10 months as the head coach for the Tiger football program," athletic director Tom Bowen said in a statement. "His program made impressive strides throughout the 2012 season and continues to be headed in the right direction. Now we, as a department, need to create a structure of support to work in unison with Coach Fuente and his program."
While a 4-8 record does not trigger an extension at most programs, the Tigers finished with more conference wins (four) than they recorded in the previous three seasons combined. It was also their best finish since 2008, and Fuente believes the momentum from the end of the season will be carried forward into 2013.
"I am appreciative of Dr. Shirley Raines and Tom Bowen's commitment to help build this football program," Fuente said in an official statement. "As evident by the final month of the season, we have laid a solid foundation for the future. I have been told our student-athletes are working hard during our offseason conditioning program, and the coaching staff is looking forward to preparing our players this spring for what is ahead for Tiger football."
In their first season of Big East play, Memphis will host UCF, Cincinnati, SMU and Temple at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The Tigers will hit the road to play Connecticut, Houston, Louisville and USF. A full schedule with dates and tentative kick times for the early games is expected in the coming weeks.
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