Coaches’ Contracts: Tommy Tuberville

The USA Today’s contract database yields more fruit with the politest coach contract ever written, Tommy Tuberville’s contract with Auburn.

Image CC by Flickr user Henley24.

This contract almost reads as apologetic to one Thomas Hawley Tuberville, Head Coach of the Auburn football team. That makes sense considering what the school put him through during the Bobby Petrino scandal of 2003. Instead of beginning with ultimatums like Nick Saban’s Alabama deal does, it includes in its second section a remark that failure to extend his contract in the future “shall not necessarily be deemed an indication of dissatisfaction with the performance of Coach,” which is kid stuff compared to most other deals.

In fact, the restrictions on his personal conduct don’t even come until section 24, an amazing 21 pages into the contract. Everything before it is standard stuff about pay scale, benefits, academics, buyouts, and so forth. And speaking of buyouts, his are actually spelled out in a table rather than buried in sentence form within a paragraph like everyone else has. That’s just further proof, I think, of the impact the Petrino scandal had on his contract. After all, this is a brand new contract that got drawn up, not an old contract with several amendments stapled on later.

Amazingly, Tommy doesn’t get a country club membership paid for by the school like Saban does. Image CC by Flickr user Camp ASCCA.

If what I’ve already mentioned doesn’t cement the fact that Tuberville probably still didn’t trust the university at the time the contract was written and agreed to (February 2005), consider this. He actually has a clause, section 31, that states that he will get due process for any matters surrounding his employment, something no one else has had explicitly written out in his deal. Then again, no other coach has had his president and athletic director go behind his back as egregiously as Tuberville did.

Selected Quotes:

“It is understood that in no event shall Coach receive more than one payment of $300,000 for a National Championship… in any one year.”

Tuberville gets a $300,000 bonus for winning the BCS, AP, or Coaches’ Poll national title. This just makes sure that winning all three doesn’t get him $900,000. CYA at its finest, folks. That’s the highest bonus I’ve seen so far, with most coaches getting $100,000 for national titles; that 100K figure happens to be his bonuses for an undefeated regular season and for appearing in the SEC title game, respectively.

“Coach is employed by Auburn to succeed at a specific task.”

What task could that be? It doesn’t actually say what the task is, but it does go on to explain in the following four sentences how Tuberville and his staff have complete flexibility to set their own schedules. Again, no other contract speaks in such accommodating terms.

“All the requirements of due process under federal or state laws for Auburn University employees generally shall be afforded Coach for applicable matters arising out of Coach’s employment at Auburn University.”

This is Tuberville’s due process clause. I still find it difficult to believe that he actually made Auburn agree in print that it would follow due process laws, but here it is. He must have been really determined not to see a repeat of 2003.

Psst… wake up, coach! You’re due to process the next hole! Image CC by Flickr user Camp ASCCA.


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