COLUMBUS - Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is assured of almost $200,000 in bonuses and more than $800,000 in salary for leading the Buckeyes to the national championship game against Miami.
“He's earned everything and then some,” Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger said. “We will do our best to make sure he's rewarded.”
The second-year coach has already attained bonuses totaling $172,083 for taking Ohio State to a 13-0 record, a share of the Big Ten title and a date with the Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.
That figure does not include three bonuses he could receive for meeting or exceeding academic incentives of his players. If he were to get the maximum for each of those incentives, he would earn another $175,000. His contract also specifies only a minimum $5,000 from summer camps, which generally pay coaches many times more than that.
Tressel said he has not had time to even consider his contract, although he's aware of the bonuses in it.
“I haven't really looked at it but I'm sure there's some [bonuses] there,” he said before bowl practice earlier this week at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “Again, we're not taking any time looking at that type of thing.”
Geiger hinted earlier this week that he was considering extending Tressel's contract. The original pact was for five years, but another year was added after his first season as head coach.
“I hope he is here forever,” Geiger said.
Tressel has a base salary of $205,000 for 2002. With his pay for doing TV and radio shows, summer camps and other benefits, Tressel's salary is conservatively estimated at more than $645,000 a year.
The Buckeyes shared the Big Ten title with Iowa and are ranked No. 2 going into the Fiesta Bowl against top-ranked Miami.
Tressel served 15 years as the head coach at Division I-AA Youngstown State before taking over at Ohio State after coach John Cooper was fired in January, 2001.
Even though the Penguins won four national championships, Tressel's base salary as coach was $88,000. He received another $20,000 as athletics director. He also was given a $6,000 annual car allowance and a $5,000 bonus if his team played in the I-AA championship or a I-A bowl game.
Under terms of the Ohio State contract he signed on Aug. 23, 2001, Tressel is assured of an extra $100,000 for taking the Buckeyes to the BCS No. 1 vs. No. 2 game, $40,000 for ranking among the top 10 teams in the polls, a month of his base salary ($17,083) for sharing the conference title and another $15,000 for winning at least nine games.
“That's why we wrote it the way we wrote it,” Geiger said of the contract. He said the performance bonuses give coaches something to shoot for in addition to just wins and losses.
In addition, Tressel may receive bonuses ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 based on high graduation rates, $20,000 to $50,000 for a high percentage of players with grade-point averages of 3.0 or higher, and $10,000 to $25,000 if at least 70 percent of his players raise their GPA for the year.
It will not be determined until later whether Tressel will receive those bonuses.
Geiger said he was unsure if Tressel had met any of the academic incentives a year ago.
“He delivers on the entire spectrum of what we talked about,” Geiger said. “We're not disappointed in any aspect of the program, and that includes the academics.”
Tressel and his wife, Ellen, each receive a late-model car, with Ohio State picking up the tab for insurance.
If he were to hit all academic and performance targets in his contract, Tressel would receive around $1 million this year, including almost $400,000 in bonuses.
By comparison, Dennis Franchione recently signed a contract to be the new coach at Texas A&M at an annual package of about $1.5 million.
Tressel's biggest bonus - for taking the Buckeyes to the national championship game - is not contingent on winning. He already has earned the bonus by just taking his team to the game.
According to his contract, Tressel may defer some of his salary to his assistant coaches and football administrators if he chooses.