If the Big 12 Conference’s ongoing expansion derby results in a membership for the University of Houston, two of the happiest people on campus are going to be football coach Tom Herman and men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.
Within the past nine months, each has joined athletics director Hunter Yurachek in signing a memorandum that would provide the prospect of a seven-figure incentive arrangement for each of the coaches if Houston joins a Power Five conference and they then remain with the school for roughly three years.
Herman would be able to total $5 million, Sampson $1 million.
Herman’s memorandum also provides for the immediate renegotiation of his contract so that he would be among the top half of the conference’s head football coaches in terms of guaranteed annual compensation from his school. If the Big 12 expands by two teams, including Houston, and the schools joined for the 2017 season, it could result in Herman receiving a raise of at least $350,000 – or a scheduled total of at least $1.4 million -- over deal that currently includes $2.8 million in basic annual pay and is set to run through Feb. 28, 2021.
The prospect of this type of contract renegotiation is not unique. Colorado State’s agreement with Mike Bobo, which became effective in late 2014, provides for a good-faith renegotiation if the school joins a Power Five conference, based on the new conference’s market conditions. Colorado State’s deal with Bobo’s predecessor, Jim McElwain, stated that his annual pay would increase to $3 million – roughly doubling -- if the school joined a Power Five conference.
Houston’s incentive bonus programs are distinct. The Houston Chronicle first reported the existence of the bonuses, and Yurachek mentioned Herman’s $5 million incentive again this past weekend in an interview with the Associated Press.
Specifics of the deals -- how the incentives would be paid out, and the promise concerning Herman’s contract renegotiation -- were detailed in the memoranda, which the school provided to USA TODAY Sports this week in response to an open-records request.
The memoranda don’t mention Houston joining any specific conference. The changes to the coaches’ arrangements would be triggered by the university becoming a member of a conference with television revenue of $20 million or more per member.
In Herman’s case, on the Feb. 1 following his first full season of coaching Houston in the new conference, if he were still Houston’s head coach, he would begin receiving monthly installments that would total $2.5 million over the next 12 months. If he were to terminate his contract without cause – that is, leave for another job – the payments would stop.
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On the Feb. 1 following Houston’s second season in the new conference, that cycle would be repeated with the same caveat.
Houston’s responsibility if it fired Herman without cause during either of these two cycles is not mentioned in the memorandum, but athletics spokesman David Bassity told USA TODAY Sports that if Houston fired Herman, he would get the remainder of the then-current year of payments.
The same basic terms apply to Sampson, except that April 1 is the start date for the two cycles of payments, and the installments would total $500,000 over each of the 12-month periods.
Bassity said Herman’s contract renegotiation would take into account all schools in the new conference, public and private, including those added in an expansion. So, if the Big 12 were to add two schools and become a 12-school conference, Herman would have to be at least its sixth-highest paid coach.
At present, based on information gathered by USA TODAY Sports from Big 12 schools, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder is the conference’s sixth-highest paid coach and is scheduled to remain at that level for 2017-18 season, when his basic pay from the school is scheduled to be $3.15 million.