Texas gives Herman 5 years, minimum of $25 million

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — University of Texas regents on Saturday gave new football coach Tom Herman a five-year contract worth at least $25 million.

Herman could make even more if all goes well and he’s not fired like his predecessor, Charlie Strong. Herman gets a first-year salary of $5.25 million and it will grow to $6.25 million by the fifth year.

He also gets a $1 million bonus if he is still employed on Christmas 2019. It also includes bonuses up to $575,000 per season for on-field performance ranging from playing in a bowl game to winning a national championship, and another $150,000 for national coach of the year recognition.

“We’ve got a great coach,” Texas president Greg Fenves said after the unanimous vote, although regent Wallace Hall did not participate. “It’s a very fair contract, fair to him and fair to the university.”

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Texas fired Strong after three losing seasons and moved swiftly to hire Herman away from Houston, where he was 22-4 the past seasons in his first head coaching job. The entire process took less one week.

The board met by conference call Saturday to approve the contract. Deliberations were done in private before the board took a public vote to approve the contract.

By any account, Texas is on the hook for a lot of money.

The program still owes Strong more than $10 million for the final two years of a five-year guaranteed contract. Texas is also negotiating with Houston on a $2.5 million buyout to get Herman. And the Longhorns program still owes Strong’s staff, who were under multi-year contracts, another $6 million.

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Some of that money — but not all — would be reduced if Strong and his former assistants find new jobs.

Regent Alex Cranberg, who had been on the board when Strong’s contract was approved, called Strong’s contract “a disaster” and “embarrassing” in hindsight, and was pleased with how Herman’s deal is structured, with most, but not all, of the money guaranteed.

Texas also seems aware that if Herman does well at Texas, he’ll have other suitors. Herman’s Texas contract includes a hefty buyout — $3 million per year plus assistants salaries— if he chooses to leave early.

Herman’s contract will be paid with revenue generated from the athletic department, not from money awarded to the university.

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As for his staff, Herman is still putting that together. Those contracts will be sent to the regents at a later date.

Texas’ use of guaranteed contracts for head coaches and assistants is relatively new and was started by former athletic director Steve Patterson when the school hired Strong in early 2014. Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart also has a six-year guaranteed contract, with an option for a seventh year, worth about $22 million.