Stylish Urban Living
“A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
— Samuel Goldwyn
“He who derives the advantage ought to sustain the burden.”
— Legal maxim
Several years ago, when The Ohio State University gave a new contract to then head football coach Jim Tressel, Case Study examined the terms of the coach’s contract. With Tressel now working as a game day consultant for the winless Indianapolis Colts (and rumored to be under consideration to coach at UCLA), it seems only fair to give the same scrutiny to the contract signed by new head coach Urban Meyer.
The agreement, signed on Nov. 28, contains all the common contractual elements. Like most contracts, rather than repeat the names of the parties over and over again, it quickly identifies shortcuts, labeling Meyer, “Coach” and the university, “Ohio State.” The contract further notes that it is laying out financial terms and will address “additional terms of employment” in another document.
There is one glaring difference from the contract given to Tressel. That deal, signed in 2006, specified that the coach was to report to the athletic director directly and was only nominally under the control of the university president. Meyer’s contract contains not a single mention of the athletic director position, neither does it lay out any alternative reporting system. This may relate to the questions of adequate supervision over the football program that have arisen as a result of ongoing NCAA investigations or may simply be because this term sheet does not address reporting conditions.
Like most contracts, Meyer’s term sheet specifies its length (through Jan. 31, 2018), and how the agreement will be terminated. Most interesting though, is Meyer’s compensation structure. His base salary each year for coaching football is $700,000 — two hundred thousand more than Tressel was paid.
Meyer will get significantly more than Tressel did for apparel deals. Tressel’s apparel deal was $625,000 annually. Meyer’s is more than twice that amount — $1.4 million per year. In addition, Meyer will earn $1.85 million for “media, promotions and public relations.” This includes radio and television programs under the control of the university and with Ohio State controlling “title and interest in his name, likeness and other indicia identified with [him].” This is nearly three times the amount that Tressel was paid for media relations.
Similar to Tressel’s contract, Meyer will be paid a retirement contribution ($40,000 per year), a fee to appeal at a Coca-Cola event ($10,000 per year) and retention payments if he remains employed beyond 2013. ($450,000 in 2014, $750,000 in 2016 and $1.2 million in 2018). He will also earn a “transition payment” of $250,000. Like his predecessor, Meyer can also earn bonuses. These can kick in based on the football team’s ‘graduation success rate’ and ‘academic progress rate’ ($100,000-$150,000 each), for winning the Big Ten Leaders Division ($50,000), for winning the Big Ten Championship game ($100,000 plus an additional contract year), for making a BCS bowl game ($150,000) and for making the BCS national championship game ($250,000).
Meyer also gets an automobile stipend; 12 tickets, five press passes and two parking passes to every home football game; two tickets to every home basketball game; a golf club membership; and airline travel expenses. In total Meyer’s guaranteed pay is $4,000,000. If the Buckeyes met all academic bonuses, won a Big Ten championship and made the national championship game, that amount would rise to $4,700,000.
At the press conference announcing his hiring, Meyer stated that part of the reason he left Florida was that he was trying to fix all of the problems associated with college football rather than concentrating on his job. The final paragraph of his term sheet provides that Ohio State will found the ‘Urban Meyer Fellowship for Ethics and Leadership in Sports’ and that Meyer will both teach and work to secure future funding for the fellowship.
Meyer’s ethics will certainly be scrutinized, considering the nature in which the job became open in the first place. Hopefully, he’ll steer clear of the ethical lapses and earn plenty of those bonuses for graduation rates and bowl games.
David Hejmanowski is a magistrate and court administrator at the Delaware County Juvenile Court and a former assistant prosecuting attorney.