In drafting Cuonzo Martin’s Memorandum of Understanding, the University of Tennessee included a guideline that easily could be labeled as the Bruce Pearl clause.
Though short on specifics, the clause clearly lays out that the new UT men’s basketball coach will risk losing his job if he repeatedly commits NCAA violations.
Pearl, who was implicated by the NCAA for numerous major violations, including one for unethical conduct because he lied to NCAA investigators, was fired three days after the Vols bowed out of the 2011 NCAA tournament with an ugly loss to Michigan.
If Martin is fired without cause, he will receive 60 percent ($780,000) of his base salary of $1.3 million for however many years remain on the contract. If Martin left for another job during the first three years of his contract, he would owe UT two times his base salary ($2.6 million). If he leaves during the fourth year and beyond, he would owe $1.3 million.
If Martin is fired with cause, UT does not owe him anything.
The MOU, which the News Sentinel acquired Wednesday through a Tennessee Open Records request, was signed by Martin on March 27, the same day he left Missouri State to take the UT job.
No matter what, Martin — in writing, at least — will have five years that won’t be hindered by sanctions from the NCAA.
Martin will have however many years of certain sanctions the NCAA Committee of Infractions delivers tacked on to the end of his contract. That clause includes years that are affected by recruiting limitations, scholarship reductions or post-season bans.
When UT received a Notice of Inquiry from the NCAA in September, it self-imposed 25 percent salary cuts for Pearl and his staff of assistants along with recruiting bans that ranged from three months to a year. Two months later, SEC commissioner Mike Slive tacked on an eight-game suspension for Pearl during conference play.
Shortly after UT bowed out of the NCAA tournament, Pearl and his assistants were fired in March. UT and its former coaches are set to meet with the NCAA Committee on Infractions next month, but will likely wait an additional two or three months before it learns if it will receive further sanctions.
Martin, who made $300,000 in his final season at Missouri State, has the potential to cash in on a number of performance-based bonuses.
Winning the SEC East regular-season championship would net Martin $50,000, winning the SEC postseason tournament is good for $75,000 and an SEC regular-season championship would pay $100,000. None of Martin’s bonuses within this parameter are cumulative, so UT would only owe him for the highest achievement.
A similar, non-cumulative scale is set up for Martin’s achievements outside the SEC. A postseason trip to the NIT will pay $25,000, while an appearance in the NCAA tournament is good for $50,000. Within the NCAA tournament is where Martin can truly cash in, as a Sweet 16 trip will pay $75,000, Elite Eight is $100,000, Final Four is $150,000 and a NCAA national championship would net a bonus of more than 15 percent of his salary at $200,000.
Strong showings in Academic Progress Rate and Graduate Success Rate scores could also provide Martin with bonuses that range from $25,000-$50,000.
UT will pay the $200,000 Martin owes Missouri State for leaving, but Martin will be responsible for personal tax obligations inherited from the move. He also will have access to two university-loaned vehicles and will pocket $25,000 for moving expenses.
Tracy Webster, whom Martin hired from Nebraska, will be Martin’s highest-paid assistant, earning an annual salary of $190,000. Jon Harris and Kent Williams, both of whom coached under Martin at Missouri State, will make $175,000 and $125,000, respectively.
Director of basketball operations Houston Fancher, the lone holdover from the Pearl era, will earn $84,000. Neither Fancher nor any of the assistants are working with contracts.
Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble