Ohio State is paying football coach Urban Meyer a minimum of $4 million annually — more money than his predecessor — and detailing in the contract what he's required to do if an NCAA rules violation occurs under his watch.
The university completed details of Meyer's contract and released it on Monday. The school's board of trustees is expected to approve it later in the week.
The deal runs through the 2017 season and keeps the Buckeyes football coach among the top five nationally in compensation. Meyer was hired last November to rebuild the program, which got a one-year bowl ban for NCAA rules violations under former coach Jim Tressel.
Meyer's contract guarantees him at least $4 million annually — up from Tressel's $3.8 million — with a chance to make significantly more through bonuses, youth camps and other compensation. It includes perks common for football coaches at major universities — golf club membership, car stipends, tickets and a suite for home football games, use of private jets for recruiting and personal trips.
Meyer will get more than twice as much in guaranteed money as Ohio State President Gordon Gee, who is one of the best-compensated university presidents.
One main difference from Tressel's deal: Meyer's contract goes into greater detail about what he must do if he becomes aware there is a potential violation of NCAA rules.
"Given the circumstances we had, we felt it was important to put provisions in there to make sure the right safeguards are in place on both sides," said athletic director Gene Smith in a phone interview. "That's been strengthened and beefed up."
Meyer and his son, Nate, threw out the first pitch Monday night at Cleveland's Progressive Field, where the Indians were hosting the Cincinnati Reds.
"I really don't look at the contract," he said after taking a few swings in the indoor batting cages before the game. "I had my attorney look at it. I just don't deal with that or how it compares to other contracts across the country, so I never looked at it. We talked through it and I'm OK with it."
Tressel was forced out because he didn't tell anyone that he received a tip about some players violating NCAA rules. The NCAA gave Ohio State a bowl ban for this season as a result of violations that included eight players taking $14,000 in cash and tattoos in exchange for jerseys, rings and other memorabilia.
Meyer's contract provides more specifics on how he is expected to handle a possible violation.
"It's more the message than anything, to make sure that he's communicative, does the right paperwork, makes the right decisions," Smith said. "It's more tying that down."
His 30-page contract provides base salaries of $700,000; a one-time "transition" payment of $250,000; annual contributions of $40,000 to a defined contribution plan; $1,850,000 annually for media responsibilities, including radio and television shows; and $1.4 million annually as part of the school's contract with Nike.
He'll get a $1,200 monthly stipend toward two cars. Meyer also gets full membership and monthly dues at a Columbus-area golf club paid by the school. The contract provides 12 tickets for the lower bowl for each home football game, plus use of a suite for his family and friends, and parking passes.
Meyer gets a private jet when he goes on recruiting trips or school business more than 200 miles from campus. He can also use a private jet on the school's tab for 35 hours each year.
The deal includes employment bonuses of $450,000 in 2014, $750,000 in 2016 and $1.2 million when the deal ends after the 2018 season.
Even though Ohio State can't go to a bowl game this season because of rule violations under Tressel, Meyer can still earn a bowl bonus.
The contract includes a $50,000 bonus if Ohio State wins its Big Ten division title, and an additional $100,000 if it wins the league championship. Meyer will get $150,000 for reaching a BCS bowl — and, since the Buckeyes are banned this season, he can get that amount by having Ohio State finish in the top 10 of the BCS final rankings.
Meyer gets $250,000 for reaching a national championship game. He gets that amount this season if Ohio State finishes in the top two in the BCS rankings.
Meyer also gets bonuses if his players do well academically — $50,000 if the team has a cumulative 3.0 grade-point average; $100,000 for a 3.3 average; $150,000 for a 3.5 average. The team's grade-point average last school year was roughly 2.8.
"After watching how Urban runs things, we're optimistic that the team at some point is going to get a 3.0," Smith said.
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