Someone famous once said: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death, taxes, and a college terminating a coach before his contract expires means they’ll owe him a bunch of money.”
Universities across the country offer generous compensation and benefits to attract coaches who will bring glory to the team and warm the alumni’s hearts. Unfortunately, not all coaches can achieve a winning record or make the alumni happy, so there often comes a time when universities terminate a coach’s employment “without cause”. This means that the coach has not broken any rules or engaged in any misconduct, simply that the university simply wishes to say goodbye (i.e., for example, if the coach really sucks). Such a parting of the ways can be quite expensive, even more so than a typical divorce, as illustrated in these recent examples of coaches who got their walking papers and the contractually-required severance. If only all of us got these severance packages if we’re ever fired…
In any event, we’ve reviewed the contracts of recently fired coaches at public colleges or universities to tell you exactly how much it will cost the school.
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State University. In November of 2015 Iowa State University dismissed Paul Rhoads after seven seasons that were less than inspiring. This was an early dismissal when considering that Rhoads’ contract was to last through December of 2021. Because it was early, the severance was correspondingly large: $4.5 million ($750,000 for each year remaining on the contract).
Randy Edsall, University of Maryland. Coach Edsall was fired in the middle of October of 2015. As a result, Maryland owes Edsall $2,625,000. That being said, if Edsall coaches, or provides consulting to a football team, the compensation payout by Maryland will be reduced by the amount he is getting paid for his subsequent coaching/consulting duties.
Mike London, University of Virginia. The University of Virginia recently bid farewell to coach London, as the Cavaliers have suffered four straight losing seasons. As a result, the University of Virginia contractually owed him $2,568,979, with an offset for any amounts owed received by him from other football-related activities.
Dan McCarney, University of North Texas. The University of North Texas hired McCarney as its head football coach in December of 2010. As provided in a contract extension, he was scheduled to stay there through March of 2019. However, in October of 2015 it was reported that McCarney has been let go after posting a losing record during his tenure and five straight losses this season. McCarney is now entitled to receive his base salary of $600,000 for the remainder of the term, which comes to a little over $2 million. As with many other contracts, however, there is an offset for wages that McCarney earns from new employment.
Mark Richt, University of Georgia. In accordance with Richt’s contract, he is entitled to $66,666.687 per month for the remainder of his contract term. With 25 months to go, that means $1,666,666.75 in total. And yes, Richt gets to keep that in additional to his salary at the University of Miami, where he just accepted a position. The lesson: it’s good to be Mark Richt.
Kyle Flood, Rutgers University. Also in late November of 2015, Rutgers fired coach Flood. There is some uncertainty over whether there was “cause” for the firing, given Flood’s recent three-game suspension for improper communications concerning the academic status of a player. Assuming that the university is exercising its blanket right to dismiss Flood for any reason or no reason, the university will have to pay $1,400,000 to do so, with an offset for any wages Flood earns from new employment.
Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina University. Based on his contract, the school must pay him his base salary — $400,000 – until June of 2018. This comes to a little more than $1 million. That being said, if McNeill starts working somewhere else, this severance payment may be offset by any new salary he receives.
Norm Chow, University of Hawaii. After enduring far more losses than wins for its football team over the past four years, the University of Hawaii (Manoa) bid farewell to coach Chow even though he had a year remaining on his contract. This entitles Chow to a severance that consists of his base salary for the remainder of the term plus an additional $200,000 in consideration for the final year, coming to $750,000.
The lesson from all of this: it’s good to be a head football coach. Normal employees never received packages like this, and almost all employees can be fired without cause and with no severance.