- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- When breaking down the terms of Mark Richt’s new three-year contract extension, there is far more to detail than what one news story allows -- particularly if you want the story to remain readable for a general audience.
Georgia will still pay him essentially the same base salary, $2.81 million, and he is now under contract through 2016, but there are a number of changes to compensation and the conditions of the deal. One good thing about a blog is that it gives us a space to explain in better detail how Richt’s arrangement with UGA has changed.
Here is a breakdown of four key elements in the new 33-page contract that the UGA Athletic Association’s executive board approved Thursday evening:
1. Base salary
Richt’s base salary does increase, but only by $13,000 -- from $387,000 to $400,000. That amount plus $1.12 million for media (TV and radio commitments), plus $1.162 million for equipment endorsements, plus $129,340 for operating a football camp at the university brings his annual set compensation from UGA to $2,811,340.
One difference in this amount is that Georgia withheld $420,000 of this annual salary in past years as part of a longevity bonus he would later receive in full. The new contract removes that clause and pays him the amount each year with his salary.
He will also receive in January 2014 the $2.28 million longevity bonus he would have received then at the completion of his original contract. Athletic director Greg McGarity said this element caused perhaps the biggest delay in finalizing Richt’s contract, as lawyers had to sort through the tax implications in paying this bonus ahead of the originally set date. Instead of absorbing the tax hit for receiving the money early, Richt will receive the sum in 2014 as originally determined.
2. Performance bonuses
Georgia doubled the performance-based incentives in the new deal. That brings his maximum total performance bonus from $400,000 to $800,000.
McGarity said the incentive bonuses available to Richt in the new deal “would be among the top in college football, if not the top” among all head coaches.
Here are the changes by incentive category:
* For playing in the SEC championship game as Eastern Division champion, his bonus increases from $75,000 to $150,000. OR, if Georgia were to win that SEC championship game, he would instead receive $200,000 rather than the $100,000 his previous contract called for.
* For participating in a “Tier 1” non-BCS bowl like the Capital One Bowl, Richt would receive $100,000, up from $50,000.
* For participating in a “Tier 2” non-BCS bowl game (Outback, Cotton, Chick-fil-A), he would receive $75,000, up from $37,500.
* For participating in a “Tier 3” non-BCS bowl (Music City, Liberty, Independence), he would receive $50,000.
* For playing in a BCS bowl (not the championship game), he would receive $200,000, up from $100,000.
* For playing in the BCS championship game and losing, he would receive $300,000, up from $150,000. Meanwhile for winning that BCS championship game, he would receive $500,000, up from $250,000.
* For finishing in the top five in either the Associated Press or Coaches’ Poll, he would receive $100,000, up from $50,000.
* Richt would be eligible for a $50,000 bonus if selected as SEC Coach of the Year and $100,000 if selected as national coach of the year.
* He would receive a $50,000 bonus each academic year where the football team’s average grade point average is equal to or greater than the average GPA of the UGA undergraduate student body. There was a $50,000 bonus present in Richt’s previous contract if the football team finished in the top third of the SEC standings in both the Academic Progress Rate and Graduation Success Rate formulas which the NCAA uses to measure student-athletes’ progress toward graduation.
3. Early departure
What is sure to be the most discussed element of Richt’s new contract is how there is no longer a penalty -- previously it was a minimum of $2 million -- that Richt would have to pay to leave Georgia before the deal expires.
Richt insisted on Thursday night that he did not request that concession.
“It’s Greg’s philosophy on the contract,” Richt said. “It’s not something that I was asking for. It’s something that he suggested and I said that would be fine.”
McGarity had already confirmed as much earlier in the day, saying that he saw no need to tie down an established coach in that way.
“I’ve always felt that way, especially when you’re established and you’ve been at an institution for a long time,” McGarity said. “I just feel like there should not be a financial anchor, but there’s been nothing that has been any kind of indication or anything that Mark is going to do that.
“But I just think a basic philosophy, just a management philosophy, that if someone doesn’t want to be there, why should they be working at an institution feeling like they can’t leave because there’s such a big financial penalty they can’t afford it?”
Under the new deal, if Georgia opts to terminate Richt’s contract during or after the 2012 season, the school would owe him $4.8 million. The amount decreases to $2.4 million in 2013, which is the amount he would be due under the terms of his contract that was set to expire that year.
Under Richt’s new three-year extension, the total buyout is what McGarity described as a $2.4 million “flat fee” that would decrease the buyout by $800,000 annually between 2014 and 2016.
My interpretation of the old deal, which was revised in 2008 and was to run through 2013, is that if Georgia fired Richt before the contract’s completion, it would owe him a $600,000 longevity bonus plus $420,000 for each completed regular season starting in 2008.
So there you have it, the details of the contract we’ve been waiting to see since McGarity first announced that Richt’s deal would be reworked in early December.
Both athletic director and coach have maintained throughout the process that there were no behind-the-scenes problems in the negotiations despite the unusual length of time it took to finalize the deal. They reiterated that point on Thursday.
“I don’t think there’s anything negative here at all,” McGarity said. “I would tell you if there was back and forth, tough issues, tough discussions. It was more or less things that we agreed upon from the very beginning. Again, these issues were complete in January, so it wasn’t drawn out.
“The reason it was drawn out so long was not a discussion on this or that or details. There were some points that Mark’s advisors wanted to talk about, but they were basically all semantics. That’s probably the best way to say. It didn’t deal with the dollar figures or anything along those lines.”
And while he said he was relieved to have the issue finally settled, Richt seemed to agree with McGarity’s sentiments.
“We didn’t quite tear up the old contract and start from scratch, but there was enough changes in it that I wanted to really understand what everything meant and make sure that it was a good, solid document that I had peace with,” Richt said. “So that just took a little bit of time."
So long, in fact, that Richt joked that Georgia men's basketball coach Mark Fox might have forgotten about his months-old demand that Richt buy him a celebratory dinner once the deal was done.
"I think he probably said something along the lines of, ‘When you sign your contract, you owe me a meal at Waffle House,’ and I said, ‘You’re on,’ " Richt laughed. "I don’t know how many months ago that was, but I don’t think he’s forgotten it and neither have I, so one of these days we’ll be at the Waffle House soon."