The series of SEC coaching contract analysis passes the midway point with Mark Richt’s deal with Georgia.
Image from georgiadogs.com
At first glance, it looks as though Mark Richt’s contract is between him and the University of Georgia Athletic Association and therefore he’s not officially a state employee, just like Urban Meyer is not a state employee of Florida. However, it clearly states a little later that he’s an employee of the University System of Georgia. Any other speculation regarding his employment is moot, since he has an excellent record as a head coach and has no incentive to leave.
The contract leads off with his duties and powers, the only contract to mention “powers” of any kind. It would be awesome if his contract gave him powers like flying or the ability to transmute into a liquid, but instead it gives him empty, so-called powers like the ability to recommend assistant coach candidates (that the AD can unilaterally veto) and to agree with the scheduling choices the AD already made. Most other coaches get full power for hiring and firing assistants, as well as significant influence in setting the slate of games.
His goal as coach as spelled out here is at first seems noble, but the ulterior motive is found a couple paragraphs down. It first says he must keep the team competitive and supported by the “University Community,” a fine endeavor to create a unifying force in the state of Georgia, right? Except that, it specifically states later that one of his duties is to increase student and fan interest not for the good of the community, but to make enormous amounts of money.
In the way of bonuses, Richt’s deal is pretty straightforward. He gets either $25,000 or $75,000 for winning the SEC East or the overall conference title, and he gets the same amounts in addition for going to a bowl or a BCS bowl, respectively. A top-5 AP poll finish nets $50,000, but a national championship named by the BCS and/or the AP gets him $150,000. He gets $50,000 for his team finishing in the top third in the conference in academics; that’s a bit unique since most other academic bonuses are tied to absolute terms, not relative terms. He does have the sweetest longevity bonus I’ve seen – a cool $2.4 million if he stays through the 2013 season.
Overall, the contract has more of a money-focused feel to it than most of the other ones do, though it’s hard to pick exactly what it is that gives it that feel. Maybe it’s that Richt or the athletic associate twice a year can recommend ways to restructure his pay to reduce his or the university’s tax liability for it. Or maybe it’s that if he leaves for another job, he can pay his $2 million buyout in quarterly installments between his leaving and the end of his contract in 2013. Regardless, it’s a surprisingly restrictive deal for a guy with such a great track record.
“WHEREAS, football is a high emphasis sport at the University;”
Huh. You don’t say. You mean making Mark Richt the highest paid state employee wasn’t enough to demonstrate that?
Someone fire up the “O” signal!
“Richt’s duties and powers include… [t]aking any and all reasonable actions to increase student and fan interest in and support of the Team in order for the Team to generate substantial net revenue for the [UGA Athletic] Association and the University.”
This part of his deal immediately discredits the idea that the UGA football program exists solely for righteous pursuits like giving kids a good education and a great start to adult life. Or that getting students and fans involved is intended to “give back” for their support for that matter. It’s all about keeping them engaged to keep getting their money, and according to this section, poor revenues could be a breach of contract on the head coach’s part. Of course, every other I-A football program exists for the same reason, but few if any others are so brazen in talking about it.
“Richt’s duties and powers include… [w]orking in good faith with the Athletic Director to schedule future opponents identified and approved by the Athletic Director.”
In other words the AD picks out Georgia’s schedule, and it’s up to Richt to schedule the games. He must support all of the AD’s scheduling pursuits and can only object with “reasonable” complaints. Contrast that with Nick Saban or Houston Nutt who were required to recommend their scheduled opponents. Nutt even had to include “dates, places and times” rather than just submit a list of every non-BCS school in the Gulf Coast region as his recommendations.