Brian Kelly's 10-year deal with LSU football includes $1.2M loan for residence, eye-popping bonuses
LSU’s new football coach, Brian Kelly, is set to receive just over $100 million in basic compensation over 10 years, according to a term sheet USA TODAY Sports received from the school Tuesday night.
The deal – which is subject to a satisfactory background check and approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors – makes Kelly the first coach at a public school with a nine-figure contract.
His pay is categorized as $400,000 in base salary annually, supplemental compensation that begins at an annual rate of $8.6 million, and a $500,000 “longevity” payment that he will receive if he is on the job each July 1. The start date is “no later than” Nov. 28 and the first year ends Dec. 31, 2023.
His basic total of $9.5 million for 2022 will tie him with Michigan State’s Mel Tucker as the second-highest paid public school coach behind Alabama’s Nick Saban, who is set to make $9.9 million. Michigan State disclosed the terms of Tucker’s 10-year, $95 million deal Monday.
Lincoln Riley on Monday left Oklahoma for the University of Southern California. The terms of that agreement have not been made public.
Kelly’s supplemental pay has a series of scheduled increases – to $8.8 million in 2023, $9 million in 2025, $9.2 million in 2027, $9.4 million in 2029 and $9.6 million in 2031. But the deal has provisions that will allow him to increase those payments. It also offers the possibility of $1.325 million in annual bonuses, including $500,000 each time LSU is "bowl eligible." This is likely the largest bonus payment for becoming eligible for a bowl game that does not involve a contract extension.
The first time LSU wins the Southeastern Conference championship game under Kelly, his supplemental pay will increase by $250,000 for each remaining year of the term. If this were to happen in Kelly’s first season, that would increase the value of the deal by $2.25 million. Also, the first time LSU wins the national championship, his supplemental pay will increase by $500,000 for each remaining year of the term. So, if this also were to happen in Kelly’s first season, the value of the deal would increase by a total of $6.75 million.
Kelly’s base salary and supplemental pay – a total that starts at $95 million – is 90% guaranteed if Kelly is fired without cause. If LSU wins a national championship, the remaining base salary and supplemental pay will become 100% guaranteed.
As long as LSU's athletics director continues to be Scott Woodward, Kelly would owe the school money if he terminates the deal without cause. If Kelly leaves LSU without cause before Dec. 31, 2022, he would owe the school $4 million. If Kelly leaves in 2023, he would owe $3 million. After that, he would owe $2 million. If Woodward is no longer LSU's AD, then Kelly will not be subject to any payment to the school for leaving.
Kelly will have ample opportunity to increase his compensation through incentive payments available annually. In addition to the $500,000 bowl-eligibility bonus, if LSU plays in one of the six games connected to the College Football Playoff, he would get the best of:
►$100,000 if the team is in a non-semifinal.
►$200,000 if the team is in a semifinal.
►$300,000 if the team advances to the final.
►$500,000 if the team wins the championship.
If LSU plays in the SEC title game, Kelly will get a $75,000 bonus, plus another $75,000 if the Tigers win.
Kelly can get an additional $125,000 in bonuses for coach-of-the-year awards and $50,000 based on the team’s academics.
Kelly’s term sheet also says that he will receive an interest-free loan, not to exceed $1.2 million, designed to cover 20% of the purchase price of Kelly’s primary residence, which is to be located within 30 miles of LSU’s campus in Baton Rouge. Kelly eventually will have to repay the loan, plus 20% of any increase in value of the home.
LSU will cover the amount of any buyout amount that Kelly owes Notre Dame for terminating his contract there, although the term sheet does not provide the actual dollar figure.
In addition, Kelly annually will receive 50 hours of private aircraft time for personal use.
Follow colleges reporter Steve Berkowitz on Twitter @ByBerkowitz.