EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State gave new football coach Mel Tucker a significant pay raise from his job at Colorado – and a much bigger salary than his predecessor, Mark Dantonio.
Tucker’s contract, which the university released Thursday afternoon, will bring him at least $5.5 million annually over his six-year contract, more than $1 million over Dantonio’s $4.3 million deal he had before he retired Feb. 4.
The raises moves Tucker just outside the top 10 among college football coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total pay and fourth in the Big Ten based on the 2019 USA TODAY coaches salary database. Tucker made $2.4 million in his one season at Colorado last year, according to USA TODAY.
Mel Tucker is introduced as the new Michigan State football coach Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
Only Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($7.5 million), Purdue’s Jeff Brohm ($6.6 million) and Penn State's James Franklin ($5.65 million) made more in 2019. Tucker’s salary would rank 12th nationally, just behind Franklin and just ahead of Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald ($5.14 million).
Tucker is set to earn $3.8 million in base pay, $1.2 million in supplemental pay from such things as camps and media obligations and $100,000 in shoe and apparel money. The university also will give Tucker a $400,000 annual retention bonus as long as he remains head coach that will trigger every February, since he signed the contract Wednesday when he was hired. His total does not include how much Tucker will make for running Michigan State’s summer camps, which is part of a separate contract which was not made available.
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Tucker would owe the school a $6 million buyout if he leaves for the NFL or another college job before Jan. 15, 2021. That figure drops to $2.5 million before Jan. 16, 2022, and decreases annually by $500,000 every Jan. 16 thereafter to $1 million in 2024.
Should Michigan State fire Tucker, it would owe him 85% of his remaining money owed, not including any “non-performance related compensation.”
The contract also stipulates the school will provide a $6 million pool annually from which Tucker will hire his 10 assistant coaches. That is more than $1 million more than Michigan State was providing Dantonio for his assistants last year ($4,902,552) according to USA TODAY’s database.
The $6 million pool would put the Spartans ninth nationally in assistants pay, just behind Michigan ($6,005,000). Ohio State has the largest assistant pay pool in the Big Ten at $7,245,000, which ranks third nationally according to the database (though Penn State did not report its pool).
There also is a clause that the Spartans are sanctioned by the NCAA for actions of the previous coaching staff, an additional year will be added on to Tucker's contract “as of the date the sanction takes effect or, if such sanction lasts more than one year, the six-year term will be extended to match the length of the sanction period.”
Tucker also has a number of performance-based bonus opportunities in his contract as well:
• $25,000 for being named Big Ten coach of the year
• $50,000 for being named AFCA national coach of the year
• $75,000 for a bowl appearance as the Big Ten's No. 4 team or lower
• $125,000 for a non-College Football Playoff bowl appearance as the Big Ten's No. 2 or 3 team
• $250,000 for a New Year's Six bowl game
• $275,000 for a College Football Playoff semifinal appearance
• $300,000 for reaching the College Football Playoff title game
• $375,000 for winning the national championship
Among the other fringe benefits Tucker and his family will receive include use of two cars; membership at a country club of his choice, the Michigan Athletic Club and the University Club at Michigan State; six football season tickets, and season tickets for men's and women's basketball and hockey; $2 million term life insurance policy; four seats on the team plane and two hotel rooms for any bowl game for his family; and use of a private plane for up to 25 hours annually for personal, non-business travel for him and/or his guests and family.
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