Deal totals $3.2 million per season

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012
NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS --12/05/2012-- Bret Bielema, the new University of Arkansas head football coach is introduced by athletics director Jeff Long during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Photo by Michael Woods
NWA Media/MICHAEL WOODS --12/05/2012-- Bret Bielema, the new University of Arkansas head football coach is introduced by athletics director Jeff Long during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

— New University of Arkansas football Coach Bret Bielema signed an offer letter Tuesday worth $3.2 million per year for six years.

The total package of $19.2 million is largely guaranteed, as Bielema will operate with buyout provisions from the university of $12.8 million for the first three years, before it drops to $9.6 million in 2016, $6.4 million in 2017 and $3.2 million in the final year of the contract.

Arkansas has also agreed to pay Bielema’s $1 million fee, if required, to release him from his contract with the University of Wisconsin.

The buyout if Bielema were to leave on his own is $3 million the first year, prorated, and dropping by $500,000 each of the remaining five years.

The buyout numbers for Bielema differed from the massive “mirror buyout” included in Bobby Petrino’s second contract after leading Arkansas to the 2011 Sugar Bowl. Both sides agreed to an $18 million buyout for two years, before it dropped to $17.975 million the third year.

“The difference is the first contract and second contract,” Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long said. “On the second contract with Coach Petrino, we were ready to make a commitment to each other and a strong one, because he had success.

“One of the conversations I had with Bret was to share with him, ‘Look, it’s obvious that when you have success, we’re going to reward that success and we can do that in that second contract, so that’s why it’s different.

“The package you see is more in line with what the market is, the true market out there for head coaches, especially those of his caliber and his level of success.”

Bielema has a non-compete clause in the agreement which would prevent him from leaving for any SEC school or any program involved in SEC expansion for the entirety of the deal.

The incentives in his agreement can total $700,000 per year, with a maximum amount of $500,000 for athletic achievements and maximum amount of $200,000 for the football team’s academic achievements.

Bielema is expected to have ample resources to draw from to put together his staff of assistant coaches.

“It’s more than we had in the past,” Long said. “As he identifies different coaches ... we’ve agreed that we’re going to sit down ... look at the market, look at what they’re currently making and we’re going to put together a package that hopefully we can attract them here to the University of Arkansas.

Bielema’s total salary will be split between the athletic department and the Razorback Foundation, the private fund-raising arm of the university, though the obligations from the two parties will not be delineated until his full employment agreement is drawn up. The university, as has become standard in its letter of agreement and contracts, noted that its athletic department is self-sustaining and does not rely on appropriated tax dollars of student fees in its operations.

Sports, Pages 17 on 12/06/2012

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