Burke cited the offer to Peveto as one of several "lynchpin" factors in making the move to extend the second-year coach's contract. Financial terms of his contract did not change, said Burke. The extension is subject to the approval of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana system, which includes Northwestern.
In his second season as head coach in 2010, Peveto led the Demons to the fourth-best turnaround in Division I football with five more wins than in 2009. NSU shared the Southland Conference lead for three weeks and played for a share of the Southland championship and an FCS playoff berth in the final game of the season at Stephen F. Austin.
"The impetus behind this contract extension was the loyalty to NSU that Coach Peveto recently demonstrated, but the comfort level in doing the extension centers on the overall direction of the Demon football program under his leadership," said Burke. "In addition to the fact that the team's on-field performance improved this year to the point of competing for a conference title and playoff berth on the last day of the season, so many other factors - several that at times are not easily evident or not even considered by many - which are important to having a good overall program, are also solidly in place."
While never having incurred any penalties in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate reports in any sports, Northwestern is projected to have one of the top APR improvements by any of the 247 Division I football programs when the latest annual report, reflecting progress shown in Peveto's first year, is issued this spring.
Peveto has led recruiting efforts that have earned the Demons a No. 1 national ranking for their 2009 signing class and a No. 4 rating in 2010 among all 127 FCS teams, according to Rivals.com recruiting analysts. The approval rating of the coaching staff and Peveto by their players, who have been surveyed for several years in all of NSU's 14 sports, is extremely high, said Burke.
Community outreach by the football team is at an all-time high, said Burke. Peveto and members of his staff have forged strong relationships within the NSU community, in Natchitoches and around the state and region. His fund raising work for the football program has generated unprecedented levels of response, helping strengthen the foundation for future success, said Burke.
Peveto has been visibly involved in supporting other NSU sports, by attending games as well as taking part in gatherings and fund-raisers to benefit those teams. He recently agreed to take on an additional "guarantee game" in 2011 with a visit to SMU a week following the Demons' contest at LSU, recognizing the financial gains that will help NSU Athletics weather the challenging 2011-12 budget situation facing all state higher education institutions.
"I'm proud I work at a university that recognizes the improvement we're making, not just on the field but in the classroom, in the community and in the lives of our players," said Peveto. "It's very gratifying to work for an administration that believes enough in myself and our staff to give me a contract extension.
"My heart is at Northwestern State. My family and I are very happy. We really enjoy the people and the community and hope to be here for a long time. It's been fun from day one," he said.
"I want to be clear about this: I am not looking for another job. In the coaching business, you form relationships, and a lot of time those lead to opportunities in our profession. I'm completely devoted to being the head coach of the Northwestern State University Demons and working to take our program to the next level of success. "
Peveto, 5-17 in two seasons as head coach, came to Northwestern after four years as a defensive assistant coach at LSU. He was linebackers coach and special teams coordinator when LSU won the 2007 BCS National Championship and served as co-defensive coordinator in 2008, when a resounding 38-3 Chick-Fil-A Bowl victory over Georgia Tech was the Tigers' fourth straight bowl triumph in his tenure. He was regarded as one of LSU's top recruiters.
Peveto was a highly-successful defensive coordinator for the Demons under legendary head coach Sam Goodwin from 1996-98. Northwestern won the Southland Conference championship in 1997 and 1998, soared to a No. 2 national ranking entering the 1998 playoffs, and hosted three playoff games, falling to a fourth-quarter rally by eventual national champion Massachusetts.
He has also coached at Arkansas, Southern Mississippi, Houston, Middle Tennessee and Stephen F. Austin, along with Trinity Valley Community College, following his playing career at SMU ending in 1986.