Dave Hart answers questions about the coaching search and Butch Jones hire
In the predawn hours Friday morning, two hands shook in Lexington, Ky.
Wrapping up a meeting that kicked off at 10 p.m. Thursday, then-Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones agreed to terms with Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart.
The deal to become the Vols' new coach: $18.2 million over six years.
According to the memorandum of understanding released prior to an introductory press conference on Friday afternoon in Knoxville, Jones is due a base salary of $245,000 through 2019 along with supplemental compensations totaling $2,705,000 annually.
For putting pen to paper, Jones received a $500,000 signing bonus.
"We anticipated what it would cost to hire a coach and we came pretty close to that," UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek said after the press conference. "The package that we've put together — we anticipated parameters as we went on the search — and we hit in between the targets."
According to Cheek, the salary package was constructed by himself, athletic department CFO Bill Myers and Chris Cimino, UT's vice chancellor of finance and administration, and presented to Hart.
The MOU states Jones will be owed $2 million annually if he's fired before 2019. That figure could change based on mitigation.
Contract buyouts have been a scorn on the UT athletic department of late.
Thanks to a four-year, $5 million buyout owed to Derek Dooley, who was fired Nov. 18, Tennessee will pay approximately $17 million for two coaches through 2017.
But that's not all.
Per the contract that Jones broke with the Bearcats in order to come to Knoxville, UT is responsible for a $1.4 million payout owed to Cincinnati.
Additionally, upwards of $4.4 million is potentially owed to members of Dooley's former staff. That number depends on how quickly they find other jobs and how much those jobs pay.
All told, in a worst-case scenario for the university and its athletic department, Tennessee could face $10.8 million in buyouts alone to change regimes.
Former UT coach Phillip Fulmer's $6 million buyout from his 2008 exit will come off the books on Dec. 31.
According to Jones' MOU, if the Vols' new coach bolts by choice, the school will be owed $4 million after the first season, $3 million after the second and third seasons and $2 million the final three seasons.
On a scale of last year's university salaries in the SEC compiled by USA Today, Jones' $3 million would rank fifth in the league behind Alabama's Nick Saban ($5.3 million), LSU's Les Miles ($3.8 million), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (3.6 million) and Auburn's Gene Chizik ($3.5 million).
Arkansas signed new coach Bret Bielema to a six-year contract worth $3.2 million annually on Wednesday.
Dooley earned $2 million last season, while Jones earned $1,575,000 at Cincinnati.