Nick Saban’s Employment Contract Ranks #1 Among College Football Coaches According to New Study

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Nick Saban, head coach of the University of Alabama, has the strongest employment contract according to a study of 168 head football coaches conducted by HKM Employment Attorneys. Rounding out the top 5 are Jim Harbaugh, Kirk Ferentz, Gary Pinkel, and Ohio State's Urban Meyer.

“I’ve been negotiating employment agreements for much of my professional life, and the financial scope of some of these contracts is simply breathtaking,” said Dan Kalish, Managing Partner of HKM

Nick Saban’s contract tops the list of the 168 agreements evaluated by the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP. The study evaluated a variety of factors including total compensation, potential for bonuses, golden parachutes, and the extent to which a coach was responsible (or otherwise) for his team’s academic and behavioral performance.

The contracts were obtained through a public records request from public universities across the country and evaluated based on a weighted formula devised by the law firm. Note the rankings are based on what is best for the coach — not necessarily for the schools — so the coaches with high ranking contracts and poor win/loss records may consider dusting off their resume.

Rounding out the top 5 ranked contracts are:

2.Jim Harbaugh – University of Michigan
3.Kirk Ferentz – University of Iowa
4.Gary Pinkel – University of Missouri
5.Ohio State – Urban Meyer

“I’ve been negotiating employment agreements for much of my professional life, and the financial scope of some of these contracts is simply breathtaking,” said Dan Kalish, Managing Partner of HKM.

On top of the large payouts, high profile negotiations created a slew of odd legal clauses. New Mexico State’s Doug Martin is prohibited from using tobacco at practice and games and Chris Klieman from North Dakota State is required to organize golf tournaments. Tim Deruyter at the University of California, Sacremento isn’t actually an employee, but instead is an independent contractor. Watson Brown may have had the worst negotiators in his corner, as Tennessee Tech University can reassign him to any other duty and terminate him if he refuses. Not surprisingly, some coaches negotiated lucrative ongoing relationships with their respective employers. For example, Steve Spurrier, Bill Snyder, and Frank Beamer each score a six figure annual payment after they leave coaching as a “special advisor” to their respective universities.

The complete rankings, more information on the study, detailed analysis of each contract, and the contracts themselves are available at NCAA College Football Contract Rankings.

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