Buying out Derek Dooley and staff could cost as much as $9.3 million over four years

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley and other members of his coaching staff look on after a play didn't go their way in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic on Aug. 31 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley and other members of his coaching staff look on after a play didn't go their way in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic on Aug. 31 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Team comments on Alabama loss, public negativity

If Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart decides to change directions in the football program after this season, the move won't be cheap.

UT would have to pay at least $5.6 million, and perhaps as much as $9.3 million, over the next four years to buy out Derek Dooley and his coaching staff, according to an analysis of employment contracts by the News Sentinel.

All but one of Dooley's nine on-field assistants are working under multiyear contracts, including defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri, Tennessee's highest-paid assistant.

But the payouts to fired coaches could vary based on how quickly they find other employment and how much they are paid in their new jobs.

The university would owe Dooley $5 million, or roughly $102,040 per month, through December 2016. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney would be owed about $645,000, spread over monthly payments through December 2013.

That money is guaranteed, meaning any future employment wouldn't affect their payouts from Tennessee.

Every other assistant coach has a clause in his contract requiring him to make a good-faith effort to find new employment to help defray Tennessee's expenses.

For example, if an assistant coach was due to be paid $250,000 by Tennessee and found a job elsewhere paying $150,000, UT would only be on the hook for $100,000.

Special teams coordinator Charlie Coiner's contract runs only through February 2013. But cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley, safeties coach Josh Conklin, running backs coach Jay Graham, receivers coach Darin Hinshaw, defensive line coach John Palermo and offensive line coach Sam Pittman are all under contract through February 2014 and would be in line to make between $250,000 and roughly $344,000.

The biggest expense would be Sunseri, who would be due another $1.84 million through February 2015 if he were dismissed in December. Tennessee could be on the hook for much of that contract if Sunseri is unable to find another position as lucrative.

The total value of Tennessee's conditional obligations to the coaching staff is $3.71 million. Add that to the guaranteed payouts to Dooley and Chaney, and it's a daunting total.

But UT could recoup at least some of the assistants' money through Section 3.1.5 of their contracts, which requires the dismissed coach to use his "reasonable best efforts to mitigate the University's obligation to pay liquidated damages ... by making reasonable and diligent efforts as soon as practicable following termination to obtain another comparable (position)."

While Dooley and Chaney are not bound by such a clause, the sticker shock of Dooley's $5 million buyout is eased by it being payable over four years, rather than in one lump sum.

Even assuming the worst-case scenario — no assistants are able to find jobs and Tennessee is on the hook for all of them — UT would have to pay no more than $350,000 per month through 2013, $172,000 per month through 2014 and $102,000 per month through 2015. That's a lot of money, but it wouldn't require Hart to instantly round up $9 million in cash.

Dooley has been insulated by a generous buyout clause since he came to Tennessee after the 2009 season. The school was seeking stability in the wake of Lane Kiffin's one-year tenure, so the contract was difficult for either side to break cheaply.

When Dooley's contract was extended after his first season at UT, the buyout calendar was also extended. Under his original contract, the buyout would have dropped to $4 million next year. In the amended contract, the $5 million buyout remains in place through Feb. 15, 2014.

Talk of the buyout surfaced again after Dooley was questioned Monday about an Internet report written by John Pennington of MrSEC.com. Citing three unnamed sources, the report said Dooley had offered to resign after the 2011 season if the university would agree to pay his full buyout.

Dooley called the story "absurd," then launched into an anecdote about his high school coach, who would walk into the principal's office after every season and offer his resignation. Dooley joked that he didn't have the courage to do the same. "I'd be a real dumbass to do something like that," he said with a laugh.

Dooley isn't the only coach with a large buyout, although the size can vary considerably in the SEC. Auburn coach Gene Chizik would be owed a whopping $7.5 million if he is let go after this year, although Chizik's contract contains a clause requiring him to use "reasonable efforts" to find other work. Kentucky coach Joker Phillips would be owed $2.55 million if he is dismissed, according to media reports.

By contrast, Florida coach Will Muschamp would be paid only the remainder of his base salary ($250,000 per year) if he were ever dismissed. Muschamp would owe Florida $500,000 if he left on his own.

Tennessee players said they've tried to tune out talk about Dooley's future this week.

"It's not the coaches, it's the players," said linebacker Curt Maggitt. "The pressure shouldn't be on (Dooley)."

Offensive lineman Alex Bullard said the team "stands behind" Dooley.

"I don't think it's fair. We're all in this together," he said. "People are going to talk, but our job is do what we're asked to do and win games."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 376

lstbodeanvol writes:

I was just wondering how much it would cost to buy out a newspaper in Knoxville ? GO VOLS !

SouthALVol writes:

Imagine Ohio State losing to Michigan 3 years in a row by 31. How about Florida losing to Georgia or Florida State by that much that long? What if even Saban lost to Auburn like that? USC loses to UCLA 3 in a row by 31 each? That's a "fire-able" offense. Even Bill Battle kept it closer than that. Just wondering what thoughts are rolling around in the AD's head about now.

voodoo101 writes:

in response to lstbodeanvol:

I was just wondering how much it would cost to buy out a newspaper in Knoxville ? GO VOLS !

Based on quality and local coverage, not much. This one seems bent on dividing its base.

volfaninbuckeyeland writes:

Looks like that law degree paid off quite handsomely.

BankerVol writes:

The staff is here to stay. Accept it, support them and hope for the best...

And Dooley, if Tyler doesn't get his head out of his arse...BENCH HIM!

lstbodeanvol writes:

in response to BankerVol:

The staff is here to stay. Accept it, support them and hope for the best...

And Dooley, if Tyler doesn't get his head out of his arse...BENCH HIM!

thank you

smokeygrowl writes:

The dumba was whoever signed a contract that after 3 years they would have to pay 5 mill to fire a coach. But, none the less, people will step up with donations if the administration will stop acting like the three stooges with the money they have. Jimmy Hyams said some of the donors had told him a lot of the donors didnt feel like UT was good steward with the money. Im tired of hearing that bs anyway. How much money would a BCS bowl and SEC champ game appearance mean monetarily. My goodness how much cash has Saban meant to Bama. Tennessee could lose a couple of million on concessions and merchandise in one game. Loser mentality. they will think we are in the red when bout 50 thousand show up to the rest of the home games. They prob clear a million a game in parking. The sheep believe that we can't afford to buy Stooley out.

vols37 writes:

Pathetic. Mike Hamilton totally screwed this university. Dooley would make over $100,000 per month through 2015 for delivering this kind of product. I wish I could find a job that guaranteed me $100k per month regardless of how pathetic, inept, and utterly useless I was to my organization. Dooley is garbage as a coach and most people with any since knew this the day he was hired.

bseaman7117 writes:

Chump change to the Haslam's

Voluvr writes:

Why didn't I get into coaching?

smokeygrowl writes:

in response to vols37:

Pathetic. Mike Hamilton totally screwed this university. Dooley would make over $100,000 per month through 2015 for delivering this kind of product. I wish I could find a job that guaranteed me $100k per month regardless of how pathetic, inept, and utterly useless I was to my organization. Dooley is garbage as a coach and most people with any since knew this the day he was hired.

His agent must have not even brought vaseline. Probably knew Stooley was a DA and knew he would need that buyout cause he ain't gettin hired anywhere else too soon except maybe Hackney. Why didn't that store get their order Derek? I don't know? I'm not sure.

smokeygrowl writes:

in response to bseaman7117:

Chump change to the Haslam's

exactly bs excuses and it wont stop him from getting axe

TooDlems writes:

Isn't this one of the reasons nobody else would take this job when Doofus was hired? It seems like Hammy wanted certain coaches, including Chaney retained because of their contract buyouts. Whoever is negotiating these contracts for UT isn't very good at math.

luke255#536431 writes:

$5 Million buyout to a below average coach Hamilton hired after a 4-8 season at La Tech make sense? The same morons who say we need to keep a PROVEN loser of a coach are the same people who would have stood behind Shula at Alabama saying the program needed "stability" and not hired Nick Saban make sense?

brauhuff#295403 (Inactive) writes:

And after all of that negotiating for Derek Dooley our friend Mike Hamilton negotiates himself a 1.5 million dollar buyout. Who is in charge of the zoo over there. They should be made to keep DD until his contract is up and do not give him any rollovers in length. If I were Haslam I would not give this university another dime.

GoVols_16 writes:

KEEP JAY GRAHAM!!!!!!

underthehill writes:

in response to vols37:

Pathetic. Mike Hamilton totally screwed this university. Dooley would make over $100,000 per month through 2015 for delivering this kind of product. I wish I could find a job that guaranteed me $100k per month regardless of how pathetic, inept, and utterly useless I was to my organization. Dooley is garbage as a coach and most people with any since knew this the day he was hired.

Mike Hamilton had nothing to do with signing the asst coaches..Mike Hamilton had nothing to do with the current lawsuits filed due to Hart's inept handling of the merger of the men and women's athletic departments and the costs of this have not been calculated yet..I don't think..I've been saying Dooley would be back with 7 wins..I'm changing that to 6 after reading this...

TooDlems writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

smokeygrowl writes:

The SEC wont have Tennessee to kick around anymore.

orange_eVOLution writes:

Might as well feed the kitty. Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, I still cannot believe we have lost to Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, and Alabama already. I thought we would have at least beaten TWO of them. And there is no guarantee of a win in any game we have left. Puzzled and disappointed.

GO VOLS!!

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to GoVols_16:

KEEP JAY GRAHAM!!!!!!

And keep Sam Pittman!

AZvolFan writes:

Well we can keep Pittman and Graham, they have done great jobs. My question is where do I send my check to help buyout the rest of the staff?

budd#207344 writes:

in response to vols37:

Pathetic. Mike Hamilton totally screwed this university. Dooley would make over $100,000 per month through 2015 for delivering this kind of product. I wish I could find a job that guaranteed me $100k per month regardless of how pathetic, inept, and utterly useless I was to my organization. Dooley is garbage as a coach and most people with any since knew this the day he was hired.

You can blame Hamilton for Dooley but Sensari and rest fall at Hart's feet. And as far as him getting another job? It sure won't be for DC.

Stooley_Dinks writes:

Excellent information. Great article! Great and timely topic! We need more articles like this every day until we are released from the burden of Hamilton.

Ironcity writes:

in response to AZvolFan:

Well we can keep Pittman and Graham, they have done great jobs. My question is where do I send my check to help buyout the rest of the staff?

I would keep Coiner maybe Ansley (if he is as good a recruiter as they say he is)as well. Our special teams are vastly improved (although thats probably the result of Patterson).

The main guys that have to go are Dooley, Chaney and Sunseri (although we could make him the highest paid LB coach on the planet).

AlexAndersonAAradio writes:

Money well spent to get rid of this staff. You get what you pay for and sometimes when you go cheap you end up spending more than high quality would have cost to begin with. The 3 years at UT Dooley will average about 3.6 million per year. Not far from Saban money.

Orangeblood64 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

I would keep Coiner maybe Ansley (if he is as good a recruiter as they say he is)as well. Our special teams are vastly improved (although thats probably the result of Patterson).

The main guys that have to go are Dooley, Chaney and Sunseri (although we could make him the highest paid LB coach on the planet).

I'm with you on this. Maybe even break my grand daughters piggy bank. lol Just waiting to see what happens after the sc game and if the rumors are true. keep your fingers crossed

atnvol#283282 writes:

in response to budd#207344:

You can blame Hamilton for Dooley but Sensari and rest fall at Hart's feet. And as far as him getting another job? It sure won't be for DC.

Sunseri and Ansley should be paying UT....both are by far the weakest links in the assistants.

dhwright64 writes:

"When Dooley's contract was extended after his first season at UT, the buyout calendar was also extended. Under his original contract, the buyout would have dropped to $4 million next year. In the amended contract, the $5 million buyout remains in place through Feb. 15, 2014."

Why would the university extend someone's contract after the first year unless they greatly exceeded expectations? The program was in turmoil the year before Dooley came. Kiffin went 7-5 (4-4 SEC) during the regular season, we went to the Chik-fil-A bowl which we lost for a final record of 7-6. Dooley's first year we dropped to 6-6 (3-5 SEC) and went to the Music City Bowl which we also lost for a final of 6-7. We also dropped from tied from 2nd to tied for 3rd in the East. We lost to Oregon by 35 points at home, took us two overtimes to beat UAB at home, lost a game to LSU due to having too many men on the field, lost to GA by 27, and BAMA by 31. Maybe not totally unexpected but how in the heck can you say this was worthy of a contract extension. The jury was still out. Now with about 75% of the jury in, it appears this hire is failing but due to the genuis athletic department we may be stuck with him for another year. This is insane!!!

Orangeblood64 writes:

Has anybody done the math and see how much the few wins we cost us. I bet it's ugly

senatorgip#470888 writes:

My friends we as citizens and taxpayers should all be appalled at the ridiculous amounts of money being thrown to college coaches. I love sports as much or more than anyone. However we tend to blame th Government and President for our bad economy. Yet we stand by and allow state institutions to hand out millions as if they were a printing press. It is especially absurd our University signed off on the contract that Dooley signed. Now before I'm blasted by everyone, take a moment to think about what I have said. I understand the football program generates tons of revenue, which in turn is passed down to other sources. However they are also passing along the millions in unnecessary buyout clauses to us as fans. The buyout clauses are my biggest concern and anyone reasonable would have to agree. We are in very sad state in our society.

walt2010 writes:

in response to Ironcity:

I would keep Coiner maybe Ansley (if he is as good a recruiter as they say he is)as well. Our special teams are vastly improved (although thats probably the result of Patterson).

The main guys that have to go are Dooley, Chaney and Sunseri (although we could make him the highest paid LB coach on the planet).

Disagree on Ansley - our cornerbacks are the worst in the history of this school. Whoever gave him a buyout of more than $1 should be taken to court for gross negligence.

GBOEngineer writes:

in response to brauhuff#295403:

And after all of that negotiating for Derek Dooley our friend Mike Hamilton negotiates himself a 1.5 million dollar buyout. Who is in charge of the zoo over there. They should be made to keep DD until his contract is up and do not give him any rollovers in length. If I were Haslam I would not give this university another dime.

If you were Haslam, you wouldn't spend your free time trolling on sports websites.

underthehill writes:

in response to senatorgip#470888:

My friends we as citizens and taxpayers should all be appalled at the ridiculous amounts of money being thrown to college coaches. I love sports as much or more than anyone. However we tend to blame th Government and President for our bad economy. Yet we stand by and allow state institutions to hand out millions as if they were a printing press. It is especially absurd our University signed off on the contract that Dooley signed. Now before I'm blasted by everyone, take a moment to think about what I have said. I understand the football program generates tons of revenue, which in turn is passed down to other sources. However they are also passing along the millions in unnecessary buyout clauses to us as fans. The buyout clauses are my biggest concern and anyone reasonable would have to agree. We are in very sad state in our society.

Agree..the buyouts were not needed ..the search firm was not needed..competence in the administration is vital..and missing...

pcshowtime writes:

Thanks dooley gang that is what you get for not pulling the trigger on this guy last year. 7 new coaches 7 new buyouts. The longer he stays the more it is going to cost. Sal and 3-4 debacle will cost us 1.8 mil.

Hey dooley gang you keep talking about improvement. If bray and hunter were not playing this year like much of last year. Do you think our over all record at the end of the year would be any better than last year. I would guess not. Hell it may still end up that bad.

fearthehound writes:

Lemmings. We're going through the stretch of not too surprising losses, and for some reason, the KNS decides this is a 'story' that just screams to be written...and with Pavlovian predictability the wailing begins.

pcshowtime writes:

in response to SouthALVol:

Imagine Ohio State losing to Michigan 3 years in a row by 31. How about Florida losing to Georgia or Florida State by that much that long? What if even Saban lost to Auburn like that? USC loses to UCLA 3 in a row by 31 each? That's a "fire-able" offense. Even Bill Battle kept it closer than that. Just wondering what thoughts are rolling around in the AD's head about now.

Every body wrap your head around this. If he loses this week end. Dolley will have lost to FL, Ga, Bama,and SC. All in the same year for 3 years in a row.

pcshowtime writes:

"When Dooley's contract was extended after his first season at UT, the buyout calendar was also extended. Under his original contract, the buyout would have dropped to $4 million next year. In the amended contract, the $5 million buyout remains in place through Feb. 15, 2014."

Who in the H#LL extended this guys contract after the first year. Was anyone beating down the door trying to hire him away. Why was his contract amended. I am not saying he should have been fired after year one but why extend his contract. Somebody tell me I am not reading this right.

GloryDays writes:

The real question is How much will it cost to keep them? If they are kept next year season tickets will be at an all time low. A lot of empty seats in Neyland stadium. UT merchandise sail will drop, donations will drop. Fan base will dry up if Dooley stays around. Mike Hamilton makes me sick, he made out like a bandit and wrecked this program!

thevoice writes:

in response to vols37:

Pathetic. Mike Hamilton totally screwed this university. Dooley would make over $100,000 per month through 2015 for delivering this kind of product. I wish I could find a job that guaranteed me $100k per month regardless of how pathetic, inept, and utterly useless I was to my organization. Dooley is garbage as a coach and most people with any since knew this the day he was hired.

The big screw is the fact that UT hasn't been to a major bowl in forever. If anybody wonders why Bama and LSU have mega $$$ reserves, it's because they play in games that pay them $10M+. Multiply that by a few years, and you have the cash reserve. The Music City Bowl unlikely covered the travel expenses for UT.

BigOrangeFreak writes:

Put me down for $100

Matter of fact, if we pass the hat at Neyland Stadium, 100,000 fans x $100 per fan = $10,000,000.

That would leave us $700,000 for the next buyout.

mikclark47 writes:

in response to lstbodeanvol:

I was just wondering how much it would cost to buy out a newspaper in Knoxville ? GO VOLS !

or an afternoon radio talk show host

golfman1975 writes:

in response to CaptainCaveman:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Some annonymous sourses have told me that Dooley wants you to STFrickU. You are a good person but just too emotionally tied. Trust me...this team will not be forgotten because they have character and will win games. This weekend could be the start.

You should not hate anyone...except maybe Spurrier?

Rumblefish writes:

You can't make an omelete without breaking some eggs.

Bama (and other universities...FL, S.Car, etc) went through the carousel before offering up the $$ for the right guy. Get a proven winner in here that can WIN GAMES...and when the BCS/Playoff $$ comes rolling in...the buyouts and new coaches' salaries will pay for themselves.

FWBVol writes:

in response to senatorgip#470888:

My friends we as citizens and taxpayers should all be appalled at the ridiculous amounts of money being thrown to college coaches. I love sports as much or more than anyone. However we tend to blame th Government and President for our bad economy. Yet we stand by and allow state institutions to hand out millions as if they were a printing press. It is especially absurd our University signed off on the contract that Dooley signed. Now before I'm blasted by everyone, take a moment to think about what I have said. I understand the football program generates tons of revenue, which in turn is passed down to other sources. However they are also passing along the millions in unnecessary buyout clauses to us as fans. The buyout clauses are my biggest concern and anyone reasonable would have to agree. We are in very sad state in our society.

Yes, the athletic department might be passing along millions in unnecessary buyouts to fans, but the fans choose to pay their part in these buyouts when we support the program by purchasing anything to do with UT athletics whether tickets or a baseball cap.

The fact is not one dime of taxpayer money goes to support the Tennessee athletic department and so the citizenary isn't paying for it.

BigOrangeFreak writes:

in response to BankerVol:

The staff is here to stay. Accept it, support them and hope for the best...

And Dooley, if Tyler doesn't get his head out of his arse...BENCH HIM!

Must be nice to live in Fantasy Land.

He's here for the rest of the regular season because they can't have the team fall apart and miss another bowl.

If there were a reasonable candidate other than Chaney or Sunseri as interim, he'd be gone already.

BillsBrother writes:

That Sunseri contract is an anchor as big as one of the holes in our secondary!

Rumblefish writes:

I wish I got paid millions of dollars to NOT SUCCEED at my job and get paid millions of dollars MORE for being fired for not doing so. What a crock of shiite!

Pullingguard writes:

This staff ain't going no place this year.....but...It really gets no better after another year....so, what do u do...

RockyMtnVol writes:

Ok, enought said, this is too much for the school to handle, so, can we just get behind the staff and players and play nice. By the way I have a bid in for KNS for $1

GBO!!

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features