Mike Hamilton's 2009 contract extension with the University of Tennessee
The University of Tennessee will pay Mike Hamilton up to $67,140 more upon his resignation as athletic director than it would have had he been fired.
Under the separation agreement, Hamilton is not allowed to speak disparagingly about the university. Such a restriction would not have applied had Hamilton been fired.
In total, Hamilton will begin to receive $1,731,755 in compensation after June 30 - a payout that the university admits he is not entitled to, but that Chancellor Jimmy Cheek felt "was the right thing to do," said UT officials.
That figure includes:
* $400,000 per year in base salary for the three remaining years on his contract;
* $45,000 per year in supplemental income from broadcast media contracts, which is half of what he would have received if he were fired;
* An estimated $184,140 in lifetime tickets and parking passes to men's basketball and football games (estimated at $6,820 per year for 27 years at current prices);
* Up to $18,000 in medical benefits for one year, though that number does not subtract Hamilton's contribution.
Also, he will receive $64,615 for 42 unused vacation days and an estimated $130,000 in earned bonuses for the athletic and academic performance of teams this year, both payments he also would have received if he had been fired.
Had UT fired Hamilton, he would have received $1,664,615 in total compensation.
The negotiations surrounding the termination began in Destin, Fla., when Hamilton approached Cheek with a sheet of paper that outlined "information about his termination," Cheek said at the Tuesday news conference announcing Hamilton's resignation.
Cheek discarded that sheet of paper, which the News Sentinel attempted to receive through a public records request, and has refused to talk about the paper's contents. Hamilton also did not return calls for comment.
"That piece of paper gave (Cheek) an idea of what Mike wanted. It was nothing formal," said Margie Nichols, vice chancellor for communications. "Once he had an idea of what Mike was looking for, then what happens is it goes to our legal counsel and his legal counsel. So there was no reason for him to keep (the paper)."
Cheek insisted that Hamilton was not forced to resign, though typically if employees do resign, they are not given any payout other than owed vacation time.
"I think what Chancellor Cheek would say was that it was the right thing to do," Nichols said. "Mike has been here 19 years, he's served the university well, he's raised $413 million and I think (Cheek) believed it was the right thing to do."
Though Cheek thought Hamilton deserved the more than $1.7 million in compensation, he did not think Hamilton had earned his $50,000 discretionary bonus.
The discretionary bonus, which Hamilton has received at least in part for the last five years, is typically decided upon following the athletic director's annual performance review during the summer. Though Hamilton had not had his evaluation yet, Cheek decided not to give Hamilton that bonus regardless of his decision to resign, Nichols said.
In past years, Hamilton reported to the president of the UT system, who decided whether to administer the discretionary bonus based upon a list of factors that included compliance with NCAA rules, according to Hamilton's contract.
In addition to his base salary, which under his current contract is $400,000, Hamilton has received $831,880 in bonuses during his eight-year tenure as athletic director.
Megan Boehnke may be reached at 865-342-6432.