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Published: Tuesday, 6/19/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Meyer's deal protects coach, university

$26 million contract loaded with bonuses and compliance obligations

BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS -- Urban Meyer will not have to pay for Ohio State's past violations.

But he will operate under a more watchful eye than former coaches as part of the blowback from the tattoos-for-memorabilia scandal under Jim Tressel.

Those two themes are made clear in Meyer's contract, which OSU released Monday and is expected to be approved by university trustees later this week.

A deal that will pay the Buckeyes football coach $26 million over six years protects both Meyer and the university.

Meyer's lawyers made sure to include language in the 33-page contract that accounts for any potential skeletons in Ohio State's closet. Meyer, who was hired on Nov. 28 last year, can resign and get $1.5 million per year for the length of the deal if the NCAA levels OSU with more major violations of which the school "knew or should have known" as of his start date.

DOWNLOAD: Urban Meyer's contract with Ohio State

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has insisted all along that there are no further issues with the NCAA.

Meyer also can earn his standard postseason performance bonuses this fall despite the Buckeyes being ineligible for the Big Ten championship game or a bowl.

He will be paid $50,000 if OSU finishes the regular season atop the conference's Leaders Division and $150,000 if the Buckeyes are ranked third through 10th in the final Bowl Championship Series standings. He would earn $250,000 -- the bonus reserved for Ohio State appearing in the national title game -- if OSU is first or second.

"I just felt like it was the right thing to do," Smith said by phone. "If the team does as well as we hope, we wanted to create a way for he and his staff to be rewarded."

Meyer, in turn, will be charged to keep the program out of trouble. The contract highlights a new compliance culture at OSU, including an obligation for the coach to report in writing any potential violations. Meyer also would be required to pay back performance bonuses from a season that was vacated in part because of his actions.

Smith confirmed neither clause was in Tressel's contract. Tressel failed to notify his superiors in April, 2010, when he learned quarterback Terrelle Pryor and other OSU players had received improper benefits from a Columbus tattoo parlor, then relied on the ineligible athletes to help guide the Buckeyes to the Sugar Bowl.

"Having things in writing was a critical piece," Smith said. "We looked at some other contracts across the country, and obviously looking back at our situation and what we went through, we felt we needed to beef that up quite a bit relative to communication and how communication will be handled. That's a lot more information in this contract than any other contract we have."

Meyer's deal, which makes him the fourth-highest paid coach in college football, is broken down annually as follows: a $700,000 base salary, $1.85 million for media obligations, $1.4 million for the school's contract with Nike, and $40,000 contributed to a defined contribution plan.

To reward longevity, Meyer will receive bonuses of $450,000 in 2014, $750,000 in 2016, and $1.2 million in 2018. He also receives several perks, including a private jet for recruiting and business trips more than 200 miles from Columbus -- and for 35 hours of personal use -- membership to an area golf club, a $1,200 monthly stipend for two cars, 12 lower-bowl tickets to each home football game, and a suite in Ohio Stadium for his family.

"I understand and accept the tremendous responsibility to lead one of the most prestigious programs in college football history," Meyer said in a statement. "It's great to be back home in the state of Ohio. I have made it my personal duty to ensure that the football program reflects and enhances our academic mission here at Ohio State, and our program goal is to always make the great state of Ohio proud."

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.


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