New AD says he would like to rein in buyouts

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, December 7, 2017
University of Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek, right, and chancellor Joseph Steinmetz speak during a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
University of Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek, right, and chancellor Joseph Steinmetz speak during a news conference Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- After being fired as Texas A&M's football coach on Nov. 27, Kevin Sumlin will receive a $10.4 million buyout within 60 days. He'll get that full amount regardless of whether he lands another coaching job.

"For someone the likes of Kevin Sumlin to get paid 100 percent of his contract, $10 million, I think that was a mistake," Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said Wednesday at his introductory news conference. "I'm not at Texas A&M. I know they're in this conference and we compete with them, and they'll probably hold that against me for telling you that.

"But that's a mistake in our industry. It's not a sustainable model moving forward."

The Aggies aren't the only ones shelling out big bucks to fired coaches.

Todd Graham is getting a $12.3 million from Arizona State that he'll receive regardless of his future employment. Bret Bielema is due to be paid more than $11 million from Arkansas, though that amount will be reduced by what he could earn in another coaching position.

Tennessee owes Butch Jones $8.3 million. Florida will pay Jim McElwain $7.5 millon.

Yurachek, who came to Arkansas after being Houston's athletic director, was an assistant athletic director at Vanderbilt from 1998-2000.

"It is a totally different SEC than it was back then," Yurachek said. "We've got to get a handle on coaches contracts and the buyouts.

"To me, losing football games is being terminated with cause. The protection sometimes that coaches are provided within their contracts to me is ludicrous. I want to be a leader in this industry in how we write our coaches contracts moving forward so that there's not 100 percent guaranteed protection for their contracts.

"Yes, coaches need some protection. They are moving their families to a community, the expectations are so incredibly high, especially in this conference and the Power 5. The coaches deserve some protection."

Chad Morris, announced on Wednesday as Arkansas' new coach after Yurachek met with the media, has a 6-year contract worth $3.5 million along with incentives that could total up to an additional $1.2 million per year. The contract includes an annually decreasing buyout that begins at $14.7 million through Dec. 31, 2018.

Sports on 12/07/2017

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