For such normally weighty matters, contracts for three LSU coaches and its athletic director drew little attention and took little time to approve.
The LSU Board of Supervisors on Friday unanimously gave its OK to amended contracts for football coach Les Miles, men’s basketball coach Trent Johnson and athletic director Joe Alleva.
It also approved the initial contract for softball coach Beth Torina, who was hired in June.
LSU officials were, however, mindful of the tumultuous backdrop to the contract votes, especially for Miles and Alleva.
The board meeting came just hours after LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson and linebacker Josh Johns were arrested on charges of second-degree battery stemming from an Aug. 19 fight at a south of campus bar.
Jefferson and Johns were subsequently suspended indefinitely by Miles, whose program was also placed on one-year NCAA probation last month for recruiting violations.
“You have to look at the total body of work,” Alleva said of Miles. “There have been some bumps in the road lately, but our team has had very few incidents the last six years. He’s run a clean program and been a good role model.”
LSU Chancellor Michael Martin sounded a much similar tone when he spoke about a new compensation package for Alleva.
“Despite the current unsettling news, one needs to take a holistic view,” Martin said. “There are quite a few schools looking for good athletic directors. Our athletic director has kept us at the top and made significant improvements which deserves us taking another look.”
The amendment to Miles’ contract includes no increase in his basic compensation package of $3.751 million per year but does tack on three years to his contract to take him through 2017.
Alleva described it as a seven-year deal, backdated to Jan. 1, 2011.
Miles’ contract does change in terms of increased liquidated damages should LSU terminate him without cause.
Should Miles be fired, he would now receive more than $18.7 million in the first year of the contract, up from $11.2 million in his previous deal. The amount of damages owed Miles will decrease each year based on his compensation the previous year.
The pact also increases Miles’ bonuses for certain postseason and academic goals and continues to guarantee he will be paid $1,000 more than the highest-paid Southeastern Conference coach should he win another national championship.
Currently that’s Alabama’s Nick Saban at $5.167 million, according to a study last year by USA Today.
LSU and Miles came to an agreement in principle over the new deal in January when Miles was being pursued for the head coaching job at Michigan, his alma mater.
Legal haggling dragged on until just recently.
“Our goal the whole time was to get the contract signed before football season started,” Alleva said. “Fortunately, we got it done.”
Alleva told the board that Miles agreed to stay despite Michigan’s willingness to offer Miles “well in excess” of what LSU is paying him. Alleva did not give a figure.
If Miles, who started in 2005, stays at LSU for the full term of his contract, he will tie Bernie Moore (1935-47) as the second-longest tenured football coach in LSU history. Only Charles McClendon (1962-79) would have coached longer.
Alleva got a pay raise after he was pursued last month by Tennessee to become its athletic director.
Alleva’s base pay will go from $350,000 to $525,000 per year. He also receives $200,000 in “annual supplemental compensation,” according to LSU.
“It was my objective to put our athletic director in the upper third (of the SEC),” in terms of pay, Martin said. “After working in consult with the SEC office, I believe this contract does that.
“Only a handful of programs operate well in the black. This program is one.”
Alleva can also earn a $50,000 bonus if LSU ranks in the top 20 in the NACDA Director’s Cup rankings and another $50,000 bonus if all of LSU’s athletic programs have an APR score of 925 or higher.
“His record is superb,” LSU System President John Lombardi said just before the vote on Alleva. “In my conversations with some of the board members, we are in agreement that we have a first-rate athletic director. I have endorsed this recommendation.”
Alleva on Friday again maintained that he did not pursue the Tennessee job.
“They kept coming at me,” he said. “I was flattered that they did, but I was much more flattered that Dr. Martin and the Board of Supervisors wanted to keep me.
“I have a lot more work I want to do here. I want us to keep getting better, and my wife and I really like it here.”
Johnson got a one-year extension that takes him through June 30, 2015, but no raise. Johnson’s Tigers have gone 11-20 and 11-21 the last two seasons after going 27-8 with an SEC title and NCAA tournament appearance in 2008-09.
“It’s basically to help him with recruiting,” Alleva said. “He’s struggled the last two years, but I think they’re going to make a big improvement this year and in the years to come. He runs a program the way it should be run.”
Torina, the former head coach at Florida International, will get $120,000 annually, $32,000 less per year than LSU paid former coach Yvette Girouard.
Torina’s contract runs through June 30, 2016.
Miles, Johnson and Torina were not present at the board meeting.