Wednesday, September 18, 2013

University of Arkansas releases Bret Bielema contract: $3.2 million a year plus many benefits and a $12.8 million buyout

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM

click to enlarge HIGH ON THE HOGS: Coach Bret Bielema, with his wife Jen, ought to be able to scrape by in Fayetteville on $3 million a year-plus in pay and perks.
  • HIGH ON THE HOGS: Coach Bret Bielema, with his wife Jen, ought to be able to scrape by in Fayetteville on $3 million a year-plus in pay and perks.

The University of Arkansas Athletic Department today released the school's contract with head football coach Bret Bielema.

Some of the broader points were listed when he was hired, but the final details were subject to additional work.

You can read it all here.

It's a complicated document. Key points: a $2.95 million annual salary, payable by public and Razorback Foundation money, plus, Lance Turner of Arkansas Business calls to my attention, an additional $250,000 from the Razorback Foundation for speaking fees, for a total of $3.2 million. But that ain't all. The university will provide health insurance, disability insurance, contributions to the university retirement plan, tuition reductions, travel allowances, two loaner cars, two country club memberships (Blessings and Fayetteville, if available), the ability to make money off a summer football camp on campus, a 12-seat skybox, 20 tickets to Razorback home games and permission to earn outside income from endorsements, consulting and the like.

The contract also provides a variety of incentives — $350,000 for a national championship, for example. There are incentives, too, for academic performance and graduation rate by players, up to $100,000 in each category.

He can be fired for cause. The contract contains a lengthy list of reasons both specific and a general "character" clause. But if the UA just wants him gone, it will have to pay a heavy buyout price in the early going — $12.8 million in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The figure drops to $9.6 million in 2016, then $6.4 million and then $3.2 million. If all goes well, custom has it that such contracts are renegotiated and rolled over before they expire.

I joshed to Kevin Trainor, top spokeman in athletics, that I was surprised the contract was being released. I've written this week about Chancellor David Gearhart's invocation of "competitive disadvantage" in refusing to reveal how much the UA paid Southern Mississippi to be a sacrificial lamb in Fayetteville last week. Sufferin' Mississippi happily released the $975,000 figure to the Memphis newspaper. I'm surprised A.D. Jeff Long didn't direct Gearhart to claim similar secrecy on Bielema's contract. Doesn't public knowledge make it hard to negotiate and give competitors info to steal him away?

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