Just after Alabama and Kentucky raised the college sports salary bar even higher, the Arizona Board of Regents unanimously approved bigger and longer compensation packages for UA’s top three athletic department employees.
The regents’ approvals Friday mean athletic director Greg Byrne, football coach Rich Rodriguez and basketball coach Sean Miller will have their contracts extended through the 2018-19 academic year.
Byrne will receive a raise from $500,000 to $625,000 this year, Rodriguez’ base pay will rise from $1.33 million to $1.5 million and Miller will receive an extra $100,000 in 2018-19.
In addition, Byrne will receive annual raises of $25,000 and Rodriguez will receive raises of $100,000 each year through 2018. Miller already has $100,000 escalators in his contract through 2017. He is not scheduled to receive a raise in 2017-18, but Friday’s approval will give him an extra $100,000 in 2018-19.
The Regents also approved a booster’s plan to donate $17.68 million in stock, with the two coaches to receive $6.2 million worth (at present value) each if they remain at UA through 2021-22 and Byrne to receive $3.5 million.
“We’re very appreciative of the support from President (Ann Weaver) Hart and the Arizona Board of Regents, and their continued support of Arizona athletics,” Byrne said. “We’re excited about the future, and this certainly helps.”
The Regents’ approvals came during a week when Alabama offered football coach Nick Saban $6.9 million a year over the next eight seasons, while Kentucky will now pay basketball coach John Calipari between $6.5 million and $8 million each season for the next seven seasons.
By comparison, Miller made $2.64 million in total compensation last season while Rodriguez made $2.25 million.
Still, Byrne said he was optimistic the Wildcats can retain valued employees.
“We’re going to do everything we can to be successful with the resources that we have,” Byrne said.
The booster’s retention plan is intended to help keep them. It will set aside 500,000 shares of stock valued at $17.68 million as of May 12, allocating 35 percent to Miller and another 35 percent to Rodriguez, while Byrne will get 20 percent.
The three will receive the full value of the stock if they remain at UA for eight more years, or are fired without cause after four years. They’ll receive a prorated share if they are fired without cause before four years.
Byrne will receive the biggest percentage bonus in relation to his salary if he collects on the retention bonus, since the $3.5 million represents more than five times his annual salary for 2014. He indicated he intends to stick around for a while.
“I hope everybody’s still willing to put up with me and my family for many years to come,” Byrne said jokingly. “We’re grateful for the support.”
For the 2013-14 academic year, counting all incentives and outside income, Miller earned about $2.64 million, while Rodriguez made $2.25 million and Byrne earned $590,526. Those figures are close estimates based on actual UA payments for 2013-14 and outside compensation payments from 2012-13, the latest year such numbers have been publicly available.
All three also have retention bonuses funded by UA: Miller will receive $2.1 million if he stays through 2015-16, while Byrne and Rodriguez will receive $500,000 if they stay through 2016.