I asked the University of Arkansas yesterday for terms of the buyout of football coach Chad Morris, fired Sunday by Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek with two games left in the 2019 season.
Rumors had circulated that there might have been a negotiated change in contract terms. If so, there’s no evidence so far.
In response to my information request late yesterday, I got a copy of the contract Morris entered with UA two years ago, paying him $3.5 million a year, plus other perks and potential bonuses, and specifying the amount of the buyout should he be fired (removed for “convenience” is the term of art).
Does that response mean that the university intends to strictly follow the terms of that buyout and has reached no separate agreement that changed any of those terms? I’ve asked the athletic department to be sure.
By its terms, Morris will be due a bit more than $10 million for the four years and 1.5 months left on the six-year contract (he’s to be paid 70 percent of his $3.5 million annual compensation). It is the obligation of the university, not the Razorback Foundation, which was obligated to fulfill the buyout of the last fired coach, Bret Bielema. The Morris contract notes that his money comes from athletic department revenue, a stream that includes a lucrative TV contract and other marketing income.
The payment is to be made monthly through the end of the contract Dec. 31, 2023, but will be offset by any other employment compensation Morris receives. Without offsets, the payment would be about $205,000 monthly. (This has become a bone of contention in the buyout agreement with Bielema, with the Razorback Foundation contending he is being paid below market for work as an assistant NFL coach.) Morris, too, has a duty to seek comparable employment. His payments will be offset by any form of employment income, athletics-related or not.
The contract had included bonuses for success of the team. Morris never qualified for any. It also included some small annual bonuses for grades and graduation rates of players ($25,000 in each category), but he completed only one full year with the team.
UPDATE: Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said during a news conference with interim coach Barry Lunney Jr. that the payout will be as described, 70 percent of pay over the life of the contract, no lump sum.