Loyal fans of the Georgia Southern Eagles are eager to see what new head coach Tyson Summers can bring to the program. Summers brings a South Georgia accent and even a bald head to Statesboro, conjuring images of the program's founder and legend Erk Russell.
Summers signed his contract with the university Dec. 19, and the deal has since become public record.
When previous coach Willie Fritz left for Tulane it was a shock to the system for many Eagles fans. It was a further shock to myself and many others when we learned Fritz only owed GS a $100,000 buyout because of a clause in his contract. Essentially, Fritz had an $800,000 buyout if he left for another coaching job, but that fell to just 100 grand if then-President Brooks Keel or Athletic Director Tom Kleinlein left first.
Keel left last summer for Georgia Regents University, triggering the clause.
Rather than wonder if Summers has a similar deal, I decided to just get a copy of the contract, plus a copy of Fritz's old one.
When reviewing the two, one thing jumped out at me immediately. Both contracts have the same language under section 10 ("Personal Services"). This reads that head coach agrees "not to seek, to apply, or to accept" another coaching job without first notifying the athletic director.
Duty to Report Employment Offers: During the term of his employment by the University, Head Coach shall notify the Athletic Director of any offers of employment, employment opportunities, or requests for meetings or discussions with respect to possible employment opportunities before engaging in substantive discussion regarding such employment or employment opportunities.
What could have caused the new instructions? No way to know for sure but it looks like Fritz may have circumvented the original deal by having advanced negotiations with Tulane without telling Kleinlein, but not officially applying for or accepting the job. If they contacted him first he technically didn't seek it. As for the reports Fritz expressed interest in the Iowa State job? He denied them, so who knows.
There's also this quote from Kleinlein in a Savannah Morning News story about Fritz's departure. Fritz had been offered a new contract after the Eagles won their sixth game.
"We exchanged some feedback back and forth with agents, and it got to a point where conversations stalled, and at that point you kind of figured something was up," Kleinlein said. "A day later, he's interviewing with Tulane."
My guess is Fritz did exactly what Summers is instructed not to do in that paragraph.
Here are some of the other basic details of Summers' contract:
- The deal is for four years, expiring Dec. 31, 2019.
- Summers' base salary is $300,000, plus $50,000 per quarter for media and fundraising compensation, to reach $500,000 before any incentives. That salary can rise as high as $745,508 in year four depending on incentives.
- Performance bonuses include $2,500 for reaching an Academic Performance Rate of 950 or higher, $6,000 for winning seven games, plus an additional $2,000 for winning eight games, an additional $2,000 for winning nine games, and $5,000 for any wins over a Power 5 opponent. Summers earns $10,000 for winning a Sun Belt championship or co-championship, $5,000 for appearing in a bowl, $20,000 if selected as the highest-ranking non-Power 5 representative in the College Football Playoff, $75,000 for making the CFB playoffs and $150,000 for winning a national championship. Also, $5,000 for being named Sun Belt Coach of the Year and $5,000 for being nominated for any national coach of the year award.
- In addition to the aforementioned bonuses, Summers would get a permanent increase to his salary for reaching certain goals. These include an APR of 950 or higher ($5,000), seven wins ($5,000), eight wins ($10,000), nine wins ($15,000) and a conference championship or co-championship ($15,000). Basically, incentives are really important. Lastly, media and fundraising compensation rises gradually from $50,000 per quarter in year one up to $73,877 per quarter in year four. He will receive up to $50,000 in household moving expenses while getting settled in Statesboro.
- Buyouts: This is the part fans tend to be interested in. If the coach wins a lot the question is how much he'd pay to leave. If he loses a lot the question is how much the school would pay him to leave. For Summers' contract it's straightforward because the buyout numbers are the same for both parties: $1.2 million in year one (Dec. 4, 2015-Dec. 31, 2016), $900,000 in year two (calendar year 2017), $600,000 in year three (2018) and $300,000 in year four (2019). The amount will be prorated for partial years. There is no clause regarding a lower buyout if anybody leaves.
Also, while Summers will receive $5,000 for beating a Power 5 opponent, to get the same bonus Fritz would need to beat a P5 who was also ranked in the top 25 of the CFP Playoff rankings at some point in the last year.