The financial damage of the COVID-19 pandemic to college athletics forced schools to seek support from their highest-paid employees. Men’s college basketball coaches were among those asked to take pay cuts or deferrals of salaries to help offset the losses due to reduced fan attendance, lost games and other casualties during the unprecedented season.
Another part of the financial equation between the schools and the men’s basketball coaches is the status of their bonuses. Some were left untouched. Some were reduced or eliminated. The truncated season last year meant that potential payouts were lost because conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament weren’t played. To address this, some schools were willing stipulate achievements on the assumption that games were played. Others got creative.
A look at some of the interesting bonus situations from last season.
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Coaches paid bonuses for tournament
There was a legal dilemma for schools when the NCAA Tournament was called off last year. What do you do about bonus that were to due to coaches that clearly would have made the field? Do you pay them for an appearance that never happened or do you not reward them for a season worthy of being in the field?
Ten schools decided on the former option, allowing their respective coaches to cash in.
Bobby Hurley, Arizona State – $75,000
Tony Bennett, Virginia – $50,000
Greg Gard, Wisconsin – $50,000
Bruce Pearl, Auburn – $50,000
Mike White, Florida – $37,500
Dana Altman, Oregon – $25,000
Tom Izzo, Michigan State – $25,000
Steve Pikiell, Rutgers – $25,000
Mark Turgeon, Maryland – $25,000
Brad Underwood, Illinois – $25,000
Altman donated his tournament bonus back to the school.
Good and bad for Hamilton
One coach that didn’t get a tournament bonus was Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton. He was due $200,000 for that achievement. He also missed out on payments for earning a top four seed in the field, which the Seminoles would have achieved after going 26-5, and for making consecutive tournaments. Each of those bonuses are $50,000.
However, FSU didn’t completely ignore what Hamilton accomplished. The school paid his $150,000 bonus for winning the ACC tournament – even though the Seminoles never played in the event that was cancelled before the quarterfinals. Perhaps the justification was they were the top seed after wining the regular-season conference title, which earned the coach $150,000. He was also paid $200,000 for finishing in the top 10 of the final USA TODAY Sports poll. Other bonuses earned were for ACC coach of the year ($100,000), winning 12 ACC games ($50,000) and 20 wins in the regular season ($50,000), bringing his total extra pay to $700,000.
More guaranteed money for Underwood
Illinois’ Underwood agreed to an extension running through the 2025-26 season that was announced on March 2, 2020. As part of the new deal, the Illinois coach would have the guaranteed money in the second and third years of the contract increased by $2 million in the event of his firing if the school made the NCAA Tournament in either 2020 or 2021.
The Illini were on track to make the field with a 21-10 record last year when the Big Ten tournament was called off. The school agreed to stipulate the NCAA appearance in an amendment to his contract, bringing his buyout after the 2021-22 season to $8 million and $6 million after the 2022-23 season.
The extra benefit was only one part of the added compensation he earned for the 2019-20 season. Among the bonuses Underwood received were for a 10% of prior year’s paid attendance ($25,000), a win against Indiana ($15,000), 10 Big Ten regular-season wins ($15,000) and 20 regular-season wins ($15,000).
Fewer cupcakes mean more dough
Indiana wants Archie Miller to avoid playing too many easy opponents in the team’s non-conference schedule. While those likely wins may be nice for the record, they don’t help improve the team’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament.
As an incentive, the Hoosiers coach received a $125,000 bonus for having no more than one team above 300 in Ken Pomeroy’s college basketball analytic ranking from the previous season’s Selection Sunday.
Money for academic success
Miller was one of several coaches to be paid significant bonuses for reaching academic standards set by their respective schools. The Indiana coach received $125,000 for the team having an Academic Progress Report score greater than or equal to 950.
Some of the other winners in making the grades.
Bobby Hurley, Arizona State – $150,000 (NCAA graduation success rate)
Sean Miller, Arizona – $125,000 (grade point average)
Rick Barnes, Tennessee – $100,000 (APR)
Kevin Keatts, North Carolina State – $100,000 (APR)
Josh Pastner, Georgia Tech – $100,000 (APR)
Mike White, Florida – $100,000 (APR)
Will Wade, LSU – $100,000 (APR)
Bruce Pearl, Auburn – $75,000 (APR)
Richard Pitino, Minnesota – $75,000 (APR)
Pitino also received $50,000 for his team’s graduation success rate and $25,000 for the team’s grade point average.
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