New football coach Brian Kelly and LSU agreed to a deal that made him the highest paid coach at a public university in the country, according to a term sheet obtained Tuesday night by The Advocate through a public records request.
While Kelly’s contract will pay him $95 million total in base salary, a longevity bonus will push his total compensation to at least $100 million over the life of the 10-year contract, which made him the first coach at a public school with a nine-figure deal.
Kelly’s salary will start at $9 million per year his first season. It then rises in increments through 2031. The contract, which Kelly signed Tuesday on his way to Baton Rouge, needs approval from the LSU board of supervisors and is pending a background check.
Brian Kelly’s arrival Tuesday in Baton Rouge turned into a small celebration.
LSU added incentives that will easily raise Kelly’s total compensation. The longevity bonus will pay him $500,000 every year as long as he remains LSU's coach on July 1. He also receives $500,000 if LSU makes a bowl game, and the Tigers went to 20 straight bowls before their streak was snapped last season by a self-imposed ban.
The contract has other bonuses based on Kelly’s performance. After LSU's first SEC championship, his annual compensation will increase by $250,000 for the remainder of the contract. And if LSU wins a national title, his base salary will increase by an additional $500,000 for the rest of the deal.
Kelly will also receive one-time payments of $75,000 if LSU appears in the SEC championship, $150,000 if LSU wins the game and $500,000 if LSU captures a national title. He and LSU will discuss additional incentives if the College Football Playoff expands to more than four teams.
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LSU also agreed to give Kelly two courtesy vehicles or two car allowances worth $1,000 a month, an interest-free loan up to $1.2 million in order to buy a house, 50 hours of travel per year on private planes, relocation funds and the cost of Kelly's buyout at Notre Dame, which is not specified because it’s a private school.
If LSU fires Kelly without cause, the school will owe him 90% of his remaining salary. However, it will owe him his entire remaining salary and the prorated longevity bonus if LSU fires him without cause after Kelly has won a national championship. LSU won't have to pay Kelly if it fires him for cause.
Kelly and athletic director Scott Woodward's contracts are also now tied together.
If Kelly leaves LSU while Woodward is still the athletic director, he would owe $4 million in 2022, $3 million in 2023 and $2 million any other year left in the contract. Kelly would not have to pay a buyout if Woodward is no longer athletic director when he leaves LSU.