Derek Dooley and fired assistants will cost UT an estimated $7.5 million

Graham has to pay back about $85,000

Derek Dooley

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, ©KNS

Derek Dooley

Saul Young/News Sentinel
Former Tennessee running backs coach Jay Graham goes through a drill with running back Rajion Neal during practice at Haslam Field on Aug. 6.

Photo by Saul Young, Knoxville News Sentinel

Saul Young/News Sentinel Former Tennessee running backs coach Jay Graham goes through a drill with running back Rajion Neal during practice at Haslam Field on Aug. 6.

Derrick Ansley

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Derrick Ansley

Josh Conklin

Josh Conklin

Jay Graham

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Jay Graham

Darin Hinshaw

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Darin Hinshaw

John Palermo

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

John Palermo

Sam Pittman

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Sam Pittman

Jim Chaney

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Jim Chaney

Sal Sunseri

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2012

Sal Sunseri

Some time in the next 60 days, Jay Graham — or his new employers at Florida State — are required to send the University of Tennessee a check for about $85,000.

The payment for poaching the running backs coach, who left UT earlier this week, is a rare occasion in which the Tennessee athletic department has profited from the buyout provisions written into a coach’s contract.

Firing former coach Derek Dooley and eight of the nine assistants on his staff last season was considerably more costly.

Even though virtually all of Dooley’s staff members found new jobs — often, quite good jobs — UT will still owe the ex-coaches $7.5 million over the next three years, according to an analysis of contracts by the News Sentinel.

Former special teams coordinator Charlie Coiner, the only Dooley staff member yet to find a new job, received his last check from Tennessee in February. Graham, by virtue of breaking his new contract, owes money to UT.

But every other member of the 2012 staff will receive a check from UT this month — ranging from an estimated $6,250 for cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley, who now has the same job at Kentucky, to $102,040 for Dooley, who is wide receivers coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

The bulk of the buyout money will go to Dooley, who will receive that generous monthly check through December 2016, adding up to a cool $5 million. Former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, now at Arkansas, will receive $50,000 monthly through December 2013 from UT on top of the $550,000 annually he makes at Arkansas.

Unlike Dooley and Chaney, every other coach was contractually required to attempt to find new employment to defray the cost of their UT buyout payments.

But even though every coach under contract found a new job, some were able to offer their new employer a discount funded by UT.

For example, Ansley will make $125,000 this year at Kentucky. Because he was scheduled to make $200,000 with the Vols, UT will owe Ansley the $75,000 difference.

In 2014, when Ansley’s UT buyout is no longer a factor, he will make $250,000 at Kentucky.

Former safeties coach Josh Conklin will make $100,000 as defensive coordinator at Florida International in 2013, but his salary will jump to $200,000 in 2014. Conklin will get an estimated $10,417 monthly from UT this year.

Of course, that money is pocket change compared to Dooley and the second-most expensive fired coach, former defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri.

Sunseri landed a new job as defensive ends coach at Florida State, where he’s paid $199,233 annually. That still leaves $1.4 million left for UT to pay from Sunseri’s monster three-year contract he signed before the 2012 season. That’s more than every other assistant combined.

There are some caveats to the News Sentinel’s data:

Sunseri could get a raise or a new job in 2014 or 2015, chipping away at the money owed by UT

Other coaches could earn bonuses at their new jobs, wages that they are contractually required to report to UT.

In one instance, UT’s financial obligation is estimated. Former UT defensive line coach John Palermo took a new job at Pittsburgh, which does not release contracts as a matter of policy and is not required to do so by Pennsylvania’s public records law. For the purposes of the calculation, Palermo was assigned an estimated salary of $150,000 at Pitt.

Those exceptions aside, every figure in the News Sentinel’s analysis comes from contracts requested through open records laws, published reports, or both. When the costs are tallied up three years from now, the price tag should be in the neighborhood of $7.5 million.

UT spokesperson Jimmy Stanton said he did not know of any discussions with Dooley about settling the buyout with a lump-sum payment, as Ole Miss recently did for former coach Houston Nutt.

Stanton also said all the buyout expenses will be accounted for in the 2012-13 fiscal year rather than spread out through 2016.

Contractual buyout costs are nothing new in the rarefied air of big-time college athletics, and many athletic directors simply see them as a cost of doing business.

Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik, only two years removed from a national championship when he was fired after last season, is due $7.5 million. His assistants could be paid as much as $3.5 million on top of that.

Other coaching casualties from 2012 also were well-compensated, including Joker Phillips at Kentucky ($2.55 million), Skip Holtz at South Florida ($2.5 million) and Ellis Johnson at Southern Mississippi ($2.1 million).

Assistant coaches also can be costly. Multiyear contracts for football assistants were rare not long ago; now they’re routine. All of the assistants hired by new Tennessee coach Butch Jones are on two-year deals.

If one of the new assistants leaves the staff while under contract, he owes UT 33 percent of his pay for the time remaining in the current contract year — hence, the requirement that Graham compensate Tennessee to the tune of about $85,000.

If fired by UT, the assistant would be paid his salary in monthly installments for the remainder of the contract. However, the fired coach would be required to make a good-faith effort to find other employment to defray UT’s expenses. An identical provision was in the contract of every Dooley staff member except Chaney.

What about Jones’ buyout? His agreement with Tennessee runs for six years, through Feb. 28, 2019.

If Jones leaves for another job, he would owe UT damages of $4 million after the 2013 season, $3 million after the 2014 or 2015 seasons and $2 million after the 2016, 2017 or 2018 seasons.

And if UT fires him?

Tennessee would owe Jones $2 million for each year remaining on the contract, although the amount would be defrayed by Jones’ future employment.

So, in the unfortunate event that Jones’ has a three-year tenure that follows Dooley’s trajectory and the Vols make another change after the 2015 season, Jones would leave UT with a $6 million gift — one million more than his predecessor.

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

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Comments » 86

thevoice writes:

I still wish the UTAD would pursue a breach of contract for Dooley shamming the university. That rascal never tried to coach in 2012 and apparently didn't want to be there.

DonK37920 writes:

No ill will toward these coaches. That's how the system works these days. I just wonder how long CFB assistant's and HC salaries can continue to rise. Seems like they have really exploded in the last 5 years or so. You would think they have to level out soon with overall attendance on the decline the last couple of years.

knoxtenn writes:

I have never personally known a single person in my life who was poor at their job but was paid handsomely after they were fired for poor job performance.

Dooley was a quitter as a lawyer and a failure as a coach. My Dad didn't make a million in his whole career, but unlike Derek Dooley he can look a man in the eye and say he earned what he was paid.

SevenT writes:

How much do they still owe Fulmer?

What a bunch of UT idiots!

PUL4VOLS writes:

Do the reporters enjoy continuing the fiasco of how blunderous the former AD and Co. were in reminding us of the 7.5 Mill of Jack owed fired coaches? I am sick of it. Let's try to remember we are moving on. The UT football program has but one thing to think about right now. That is how to get wins on the field. Dwelling on the past, how much we owe non-Coaches, cursing the current administration, bashing the former head coach, none of that means anything concerning moving forward. So let's try to look ahead and see what this coaching staff can do. If as some on here infer, they can't get it done, well we may be paying more fired coaches. But let's give this at least two years before we go overboard. But those reporters keep on keep on bringing it up. You know, with all the junk we see in media these days, I will be surprised if anyone will believe it when the UT football program actually does re-emerge as a force.

ColPhorbin writes:

Derek Dooley and this lost group of high school level coaches have no integrity...I don't care what the contracts say, taking this money after bringing such shame to this university is an absolute travesty.

cyclonevol87 writes:

WOW the two worst coaches Dooley and Sunseri get the most money unbeliveable.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I don't know why GVX continually posts articles about these buyouts..There's not a d@mn thing we the fans can do about it. It's not like one of the readers will say: Heck, I'll just forward UT that 7.5 million and relieve the AD from the debt they so stupidly threw away.

arkyvol writes:

incompetence is the new brilliance. the same thing has been happening with the big board companies for years, what with golden parachutes and such. once you've established your incompetence beyond any doubt (ala d.d.--as if his history in the bush leagues left any question), you're set for life. the vols are simple ahead of the game in college. funny, i didn't hear about any good coaches knocking down the door to get here. i guess they figured their ability might hold them back. thanks again hammy--wherever you are.

vq4nfo writes:

in response to SevenT:

How much do they still owe Fulmer?

What a bunch of UT idiots!

Zero, Hamilton still gets a few $$ I believe until 2014.

VolzsFan writes:

in response to SevenT:

How much do they still owe Fulmer?

What a bunch of UT idiots!

I assume UT should be the only big time school that does not participate in buyouts. I see how coaches are lining up to work at this overrated football school with a delusional fan base as it is, be the only school without a buyout and you get high school coaches.

Again, Fulmer won the only legit National Title in this schools poor football history. They have a bogus one in 1951. He set the ceiling way high for these fans to appreciate. He should and will have a statue built for him.

He was given the buyout by Haslem. It was a $6 million buyout that was the same as the other bigger schools. Also a thank you for having the greatest run in school history. But Haslem wanted him gone so he did not break Neyland's record of beating up Maryville College, William & Mary and Chattanooga in the segregated days. He succeeded. Now UT is back to the 500 program it was before the Hall of Famer......and will stay there for decades to come.

Enjoy that change!!!!!

murrayvol writes:

in response to DonK37920:

No ill will toward these coaches. That's how the system works these days. I just wonder how long CFB assistant's and HC salaries can continue to rise. Seems like they have really exploded in the last 5 years or so. You would think they have to level out soon with overall attendance on the decline the last couple of years.

Sorry, but this is not how the system works for most universities.

Dooley's contract qualifies as a "fiscal felony". His buyout exceeded that of all but a handful of Top 25 coaches. This for a guy who was unproven at the BCS level.

The Athletic Dept. meltdown results from a decade plus void in responsible leadership at UT. When there is a power vacuum, someone will fill it....and in this case it was a "beancounter" enabled by FHCPF. It took a few years to metastasize and this is what we're left with.

Raincrow writes:

in response to PUL4VOLS:

Do the reporters enjoy continuing the fiasco of how blunderous the former AD and Co. were in reminding us of the 7.5 Mill of Jack owed fired coaches? I am sick of it. Let's try to remember we are moving on. The UT football program has but one thing to think about right now. That is how to get wins on the field. Dwelling on the past, how much we owe non-Coaches, cursing the current administration, bashing the former head coach, none of that means anything concerning moving forward. So let's try to look ahead and see what this coaching staff can do. If as some on here infer, they can't get it done, well we may be paying more fired coaches. But let's give this at least two years before we go overboard. But those reporters keep on keep on bringing it up. You know, with all the junk we see in media these days, I will be surprised if anyone will believe it when the UT football program actually does re-emerge as a force.

Why, yes. Reporters enjoy it. They were trained to keep the public informed. As for you, looking ahead starts with pulling your head out of the sand.

For that matter, I wish the press would determine once and for that no taxpayer-funded money accounts for the tens of millions that UT has lost in buyout contracts over the past two decades--or whenever the swirling athletic department waters began to churn at UT. Supposedly, it's all from UT's privately raised accounts. But I don't see rich alumni marching in protest.

vq4nfo writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I don't know why GVX continually posts articles about these buyouts..There's not a d@mn thing we the fans can do about it. It's not like one of the readers will say: Heck, I'll just forward UT that 7.5 million and relieve the AD from the debt they so stupidly threw away.

Prep for a ticket increase? I would not put it past them.

The $5 Million buyout is a bit high but not as high as the $9 Million that CDD cost in the expansion of the training facility. Hamilton did not want to foot the bill, one of the most sensible decisions he made before Anderson got involved.

AncientVolFan writes:

in response to SevenT:

How much do they still owe Fulmer?

What a bunch of UT idiots!

I don't recall, but I think UT paid Fulmer $5 million just like Dooley. Firing Fulmer right before the homecoming game may have satisfied UT fans bloodthirst or at least made John Adams happy, but it wasn't the best move in the world, even if you think Fulmer was the world's worse coach in the history of college football, it is still a bad business move.

VolzsFan writes:

The great Hamilton could not have ruined UT athletics better if he was getting a bonus to do so. His great fund raising was equivalent to the money the SEC got from TV deals. The reserve is gone. Revenue has dwindled due to his incompetency. This program is about 3rd best in the State behind Vandy and MTSU. All in all, a great career for Hamilton.

murrayvol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

I don't know why GVX continually posts articles about these buyouts..There's not a d@mn thing we the fans can do about it. It's not like one of the readers will say: Heck, I'll just forward UT that 7.5 million and relieve the AD from the debt they so stupidly threw away.

Oh I think you've got a pretty good idea BB.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to vq4nfo:

Prep for a ticket increase? I would not put it past them.

The $5 Million buyout is a bit high but not as high as the $9 Million that CDD cost in the expansion of the training facility. Hamilton did not want to foot the bill, one of the most sensible decisions he made before Anderson got involved.

Agreed, the fans/alumni once again get stuck holding the tab..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Oh I think you've got a pretty good idea BB.

Well, my little $1000.00 donation won't cut very deep into that debt..lol.

underthehill writes:

in response to PUL4VOLS:

Do the reporters enjoy continuing the fiasco of how blunderous the former AD and Co. were in reminding us of the 7.5 Mill of Jack owed fired coaches? I am sick of it. Let's try to remember we are moving on. The UT football program has but one thing to think about right now. That is how to get wins on the field. Dwelling on the past, how much we owe non-Coaches, cursing the current administration, bashing the former head coach, none of that means anything concerning moving forward. So let's try to look ahead and see what this coaching staff can do. If as some on here infer, they can't get it done, well we may be paying more fired coaches. But let's give this at least two years before we go overboard. But those reporters keep on keep on bringing it up. You know, with all the junk we see in media these days, I will be surprised if anyone will believe it when the UT football program actually does re-emerge as a force.

former? how about the current..the Sunseri contract ..in my opinion ..is enough for UT to fire Hart w/o any buyout for him..and failure to do so is more than enough for any potential donor to consider donating to the academic program ..rather than the athletic program..and that may be happening..

DukeDeLuca2 writes:

in response to AncientVolFan:

I don't recall, but I think UT paid Fulmer $5 million just like Dooley. Firing Fulmer right before the homecoming game may have satisfied UT fans bloodthirst or at least made John Adams happy, but it wasn't the best move in the world, even if you think Fulmer was the world's worse coach in the history of college football, it is still a bad business move.

I think Fulmer received only 3 million. There was much more crying and gnashing of teeth over Fulmer's buyout than Dooley's.

I recall there were also tears because Fulmer wasn't "loyal" enough to return the money.

Balderdash.

Ask yourself this question. Would you return millions of dollars that you were entitled to receive?

Of course not.

Here's the answer. Let the professional coaches finish what they start. They won't win 10 games every year, but they will every few years.

Use some common sense.

Carry on.

lafollette37766 writes:

Blame who you want but Hamilton brought in Dooley, a mediocre coach at best, gave him a top of the line coaching contract, let him hire his assistants, some of whom were also mediocre at best, and thus UTAD is stuck with the 7.5 million buyouts.

volfaninutah writes:

Wow, I need to rewrite my resume and try this coaching thing. Seems to be some REALLY good money in this career field. Who cares if I last only one year.

VolTennisFan writes:

It seems to me that there is an inordinate amount of media coverage and attention to just three of 25 or so sports offered at the University. It would be nice to see more featured articles about sports other than football / basketball.

Voluvr writes:

It's not the coaches fault.

laraccoon writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

I assume UT should be the only big time school that does not participate in buyouts. I see how coaches are lining up to work at this overrated football school with a delusional fan base as it is, be the only school without a buyout and you get high school coaches.

Again, Fulmer won the only legit National Title in this schools poor football history. They have a bogus one in 1951. He set the ceiling way high for these fans to appreciate. He should and will have a statue built for him.

He was given the buyout by Haslem. It was a $6 million buyout that was the same as the other bigger schools. Also a thank you for having the greatest run in school history. But Haslem wanted him gone so he did not break Neyland's record of beating up Maryville College, William & Mary and Chattanooga in the segregated days. He succeeded. Now UT is back to the 500 program it was before the Hall of Famer......and will stay there for decades to come.

Enjoy that change!!!!!

i bet every time Fulmer sits down it cuts off your air supply .
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xQDQZ...

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to VolTennisFan:

It seems to me that there is an inordinate amount of media coverage and attention to just three of 25 or so sports offered at the University. It would be nice to see more featured articles about sports other than football / basketball.

Here's the deal..UT tennis, golf, baseball, softball, gymnastics, track, hockey, swimming etc combined would not get but a couple of responses from diehards like yourself..The writers need to get responses from the fan base and that base is primarily made up of fb fans. Are there 100,000 seats at the tennis complex??

aspenvol2 writes:

Woodbery = Adams Jr.?
Not informative. Old news, previously reported, several times. when will we see KNS rehash this again? 6 weeks?

tgiles1944#654264 writes:

There is no Coach or Athlete walking the face of this earth that is worth over 1 million dollars a year and if 95% had to get another job they would make less than $30,000 a year. What a shame this whole matter has gotten too!

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to SevenT:

How much do they still owe Fulmer?

What a bunch of UT idiots!

Less than ky/Calipari paid Davis.

Huttdawg100 writes:

Mike Hamilton....

alraguc#466367 writes:

Can we just move on? Why does KSN keep driving this topic into the ground? You call this a news organization? What a joke. Go do some real reporting.

brokendownoldvol writes:

I would sue them for incompetence and keep it tied up in court for yrs.

brokendownoldvol writes:

Just force the jury to watch Dooley's games over and over.

brokendownoldvol writes:

I wish I could get a job where they would have to pay me to fire me if I did nothing.

Madkels writes:

Why don't these AD's write contracts based on performance and achievement? In the real world, we get paid on what we produce. These clowns get paid millions even if they leave the stands only half full. This just goes to show that academics who never hold a real job and get paid on the income they produce, make terrible administrators. Hamilton, Cheek, and now Hart should have to feel some pain in these payouts so they don't make the same mistakes. Until someone is held accountable, this will continue.

Overseas_VolFan writes:

I can understand the buyout to coach Fulmer... but to pay that much for CDD for doing so little (or noting) is pathetic....
We need a salary cap in this business

MikeInTN writes:

Absolutely ridiculous!!! Hart will be completely gray, or bald when...if...he gets us out of this financial "Dooley" mess!!! I sure has heck don't envy him.

budd#207344 writes:

Two items.
1. Sunseri should be ashamed to have been paid by UT much less still take money. If I were him I would use a disguise when I cashed the check.
2. With Ansley coaching at KY we should be able to pick their DBs apart at will.

8inarow writes:

Holy Cow! This is going to take a lot of bake sales to get this cleaned up!

tvol71 writes:

It used to be that we paid people for good performance in this country. I am not sure when this got turned around, but it appears you can now get a lot of money for bad performance. While Dooley probably thinks he did not get the full opportunity he should have gotten, I don't think we hired a coach to give us the first 3 year losing streak in a hundred years, not to mention possibly the worst defense ever.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

For the past five-six years, many voices have clamored to throw out the coaches, ... whoever they were, at the time. Every such voice must have understood that, if you throw out the coaches, you get to keep the obligations. We cannot now clamor at the cost since we clamored for the actions. It could be argued that the UT Athletic department simply yielded to public pressure. Now, we pay the piper.

And yes, we will see the replay as long as we open these pages to read them.

Moesart writes:

So, UT will be paying Dooley $3,644 a day through December 2016. I could live with being known as the worst TN coach ever for that deal.

Orange_Beach writes:

in response to budd#207344:

Two items.
1. Sunseri should be ashamed to have been paid by UT much less still take money. If I were him I would use a disguise when I cashed the check.
2. With Ansley coaching at KY we should be able to pick their DBs apart at will.

Sunseri is a proven coach. Had he known the lack of players that could compete at the level he was hired to coach I doubt he would have taken the job. Now this Ansley guy, Tennessee took the bait, hook, line and sinker.

iowavol writes:

in response to DonK37920:

No ill will toward these coaches. That's how the system works these days. I just wonder how long CFB assistant's and HC salaries can continue to rise. Seems like they have really exploded in the last 5 years or so. You would think they have to level out soon with overall attendance on the decline the last couple of years.

Revenues are up. TV.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

Sunseri is a proven coach. Had he known the lack of players that could compete at the level he was hired to coach I doubt he would have taken the job. Now this Ansley guy, Tennessee took the bait, hook, line and sinker.

If Sal was so great why didn't Saban bring him back?? It's not like he didn't have openings or Smart couldn't make room for an assistant..

Kasey writes:

These buyout contracts are stupid. I can see a short term severance to get by for a few months, nut not in the millions and not for more than 1 year.

Orange_Beach writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

If Sal was so great why didn't Saban bring him back?? It's not like he didn't have openings or Smart couldn't make room for an assistant..

When Sal took the FSU job there were no openings on Saban'S staff. Why couldn't UT hang on the "best defensive coordinator in the country"? Because he could see what was fixing to happen and he got on the first bus out of Knocksville.

Olddogsrule writes:

I googled 'typical college football coaches contracts' and read around a little bit. Dooley's contract seemed to be what everyone is doing.

But I did find these two tidbits.

If Miles or Saban are fired Miles gets $18,750,000. Saban gets half his annual base salary and talent fee each year for twice the amount of time remaining in his contract.

I'm not gonna figure out Saban's buyout but ... LSU has an $18,750,000 buyout for a coach who hasn't won the SEC since when!!!!!!! Sheeesh!

Eighteen million seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hmmm ... I haveta ask, did Dooley get shafted?

Well, of course he didn't, but he certainly didn't get anything near what the top SEC coaches would if fired.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Orange_Beach:

When Sal took the FSU job there were no openings on Saban'S staff. Why couldn't UT hang on the "best defensive coordinator in the country"? Because he could see what was fixing to happen and he got on the first bus out of Knocksville.

What?? Are you referring to Sal (who was fired) at UT?? You're obviously confused, and stupid to boot.

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