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ABOR approves Sumlin contract, new policies for hiring, firing coaches

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Carmen Valencia | The Daily Wildcat Newly hired head football coach, Kevin Sumlin, shakes hands with athletic director Dave Heeke during the press conference held this Tuesday, Jan. 16.

The Arizona Board of Regents approved the contract of University of Arizona football head coach Kevin Sumlin Feb. 8, after approving revisions in the language to several board policies governing how coaches and athletics directors are hired.

The board, which governs the state's three public universities, finalized the five-year, $14.5 million contract in a unanimous vote. Sumlin stands to collect $2 million a year in the first two years of the contract, with an increase to $3 million in the last three years.

“Sumlin is a highly qualified coach with an impressive background,” the board’s action item read. “His leadership will bring an exciting new era of football and a positive culture for our student athletes, fans and staff.”

          RELATED: New UA football coach Kevin Sumlin: 'I really believe this is a special place.'

The contract includes a multitude of monetary incentives contingent on graduating a certain percentage of players, winning games and being invited to a certain tier of post-season play. All told, Sumlin could potentially earn an extra $2 million a year in incentives.

Included in the contract are use of a vehicle, a membership at a local country club and use of a non-commercial jet. 

Notably, the contract also includes a $10 million buyout if the UA chooses to fire Sumlin in his first two years, without cause. That amount drops to $3.5 million in the final year.

Should Sumlin choose to terminate the contract, he would owe the UA anywhere from $10 million in the first two years and gradually down to $1 million in his fifth. His salary will be paid from athletic department revenue, with no money being drawn from donors or appropriated funds. 

The vote came on the same day the board proposed changes to the Board Policy Manual, specifically Chapter Six, which details personnel hiring practices and procedures. 

Proposed to “consolidate board rules regarding these multiple-year contracts in a single policy,” the changes centered on what information schools will be required to provide the board to justify multi-year contracts to football, basketball and baseball coaches, as well as athletic directors.

In comparison, the new amendments are significantly more detailed. The old policy, last revised in 1988, required schools only inform the board of “additional significant provisions of the contract.” 

Now, university presidents are mandated to divulge a coach’s “outside income, e.g., other service agreements, endorsements, real estate interests with proximity or connection to athletics or athletics facilities,” according to the board action item.

          RELATED: Sumlin contract: $14.5 million over five years

Universities will also be expected to present the board with the terms of any buyout a perspective coach or athletic director received from their previous employer, as well as a “clawback provision,” ostensibly to recuperate any monetary incentives if it is found NCAA rules were violated during a coaches tenure.

Additionally, extra language was added regarding adherence to Title IX, the federal equal opportunity statute. 

The state universities will “require each athletics director and head coach to comply with all board and university policies, including all reporting and other requirements,” with respect to Title IX, according to the action item.


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