Coaches’ Contracts: Urban Meyer

April 15, 2008

The SEC coach contract train rumbles along, now with Florida’s own Urban Meyer. As always, the contracts are collected and hosted by the USA Today.

Image CC by Flickr user chasingfun.

As I mentioned before, Urban Meyer is tied with Nick Saban for longest SEC contract (excluding amendments) at 32 pages. It read suspiciously like Saban’s contract at times, leading me to think that someone at UF was reading off of Mike Shula’s deal when drawing it up. It’s just something else to throw in the “Stuff we probably stole from Alabama instead of the other way around” bin along with the Gator band’s pregame routine, the “Go Gators” tune, and the unfortunate concept of a gymnastics band.

The defining characteristic of the contract is overwhelming amounts of legalese and non-standard phrasing. Nearly every sentence has the word “shall” in it, and it gives off the impression the lawyers were getting paid by the word. Going through it was an outright chore.

His bonus scheme is a little unusual, as he gets twice as big a payment for winning the SEC title game ($75,000) as he does for going to a non-BCS bowl ($37,500). His BCS game bonus is $100,000, meaning winning the SEC title game is actually worth $175,000 to him. Playing in the national title game is another $50,000 above the standard BCS bonus (so Michigan fans, you can now whine about him trying to get extra money by campaigning in 2006), but winning it all gets him $250,000.

Note that winning a non-BCS game doesn’t get him any more money than appearing in one does, and the BCS bonuses are non cumulative. Winning the national title gets him the $250,000, not $400,000. If you’re doing the math at home, his total bonus in 2006 for winning the SEC and national championships was $475,000.

So Urban, how did you spend your half million bonus after the title game? Image CC by Flickr user bobbyuggles.

The contract does acknowledge in a couple places that Meyer’s coaching services were in high demand (see quotes below), but UF didn’t throw in a clause requiring him to be a “loyal employee” like Alabama did with Saban. Rather, it gave him a $500,000 signing bonus and some of the largest longevity bonuses I’ve seen, culminating in $600,000 just for sticking around to end of the final season of the contract (2011).

About the only other unique thing worth mentioning is that Meyer officially is employed by the University Athletic Association, which from a legal standpoint is more independent than most athletic associations are. Granted, the UAA is inextricably aligned with the school and UF President Bernie Machen is the chairman of the board of the UAA, but it is a Direct Support Organization (definition here) and component of UF for accounting purposes only. That means they are able to get around certain parts of Florida law regarding state employees if they want to since he is legally an employee of the independent UAA Corporation and not the university. DSOs are explicitly allowed by Florida state law, so there are no loopholes at work here if you were wondering.

Selected Quotes:

Parties. Association is a Florida corporation nor for profit with its principal place of business in Gainesville, Florida. Urban Meyer is a resident of Gainesville, Florida.”

This is at the beginning and just illustrates the fact that Meyer is not an employee of the State of Florida but of a legally separate entity, the UAA. If it seems odd to see that it lists Meyer as being a Gainesville resident, since he was living in Utah when he agreed to take the UF job, don’t worry. The contract was signed in April of 2005, after he already relocated.

“The parties acknowledge that Coach’s skill, success and experience create a demand for his services at other universities and by professional football franchises.”

Great Odin’s raven! Does this mean that pro teams were pursuing Meyer as well, and UF beat out not just Notre Dame but the entire NFL as well? No, probably not; this is just the opening quote from the clause that gives him his signing bonus. I guess in case someone decides to audit something, they have a justification for giving him a signing bonus, something that no other SEC coach got as far as I can tell. But then, they’re all state employees and probably aren’t eligible to get one.

Sorry, but no third quote this time. It’s just too dry and boring to justify pulling anything else out. It’s not homerism; take a look at the thing and see if you get more than two pages through without succumbing to drowsiness.

Meyer asks Tim Tebow how to stay cool when “ and email” gets on your case. Image CC by Flickr user bobbyuggles.