Explaining fine points of Iowa's $49.5M investment in Ferentz

Chad Leistikow

IOWA CITY, Ia. — More zeroes, an eight-win threshold and increased private-plane usage are among the new wrinkles in the six-year contract extension that Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz signed Monday.

An analysis into the document, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, also revealed more benefits for the university's assistant football coaches and staff.

Ferentz is now signed for $49.5 million for the next 10 seasons, with up to $43 million guaranteed and the ability to make millions more in bonuses.

Here’s a closer look at new (or interesting) stuff in the contract that athletics director Gary Barta and president Bruce Harreld approved:

Big numbers

The biggest change, obviously, is in the head coach’s pay. Had Iowa done nothing, it would’ve owed Ferentz $16.3 million for the 2016 through 2019 seasons. Under the new deal, Ferentz gets $18.6 million during those four years, with the six-year extension number (for the 2020 through 2025 seasons) totaling $30.9 million — an average of $5.15 million per season. (Courtesy reminder: Iowa's athletic department is self-sustaining and doesn't use public funding.)

Previous contract (total value $16.3 million)

  • 2016-17: $4,075,000
  • 2017-18: $4,075,000
  • 2018-19: $4,075,000
  • 2019-20: $4,075,000

New (total value, $49.5 million)

  • 2016-17: $4,500,000
  • 2017-18: $4,600,000
  • 2018-19: $4,700,000
  • 2019-20: $4,800,000
  • 2020-21: $4,900,000
  • 2021-22: $5,000,000
  • 2022-23: $5,100,000
  • 2023-24: $5,200,000
  • 2024-25: $5,300,000
  • 2025-26: $5,400,000

One of the new perks

Tucked into the Supplemental Compensation language of Ferentz’s contract was this new clause: “If (Iowa) wins, in any season, eight or more games, Coach shall be paid a bonus of $500,000 for that year.”

That could amount to as much as $5 million in additional compensation alone, considering Iowa has averaged 8.2 wins a season in Ferentz’s previous 15 years. But, somewhat surprisingly, Ferentz has only reached the eight-win threshold eight times in his 17 seasons as head coach (47 percent).

Max bonus pay

The eight-win clause is the reason Ferentz’s maximum-bonus number has shot up to $2,875,000 (from $2,375,000) when the Rose Bowl is not a national-semifinal game ($2,925,000 is the max when it is).

Last season, Ferentz’s contract awarded him at least $900,000 in bonus pay — $250,000 for an undefeated regular season, $250,000 for a top-10 national finish, $250,000 for a New Year’s Six bowl appearance (the Rose), $100,000 for being named national coach of the year, $50,000 for being the Big Ten’s coach of the year.

Ferentz’s incentives are largely unchanged, except an 80-percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) is now required for a $100,000 bonus. It was previously listed as a 70-percent graduation rate. Ferentz would receive a $1.5 million payment for winning a national championship, same as before.

The buyout language

There was much angst about the buyout terms in Ferentz’s previous contract. The new buyout package appears to be even more generous to Ferentz, although Barta offered Tuesday that in making “a 10-year commitment to a coach, that decision is made in comfort that you’re not going to get to a buyout.”

Like last time, the buyout — the amount of money Ferentz, 61, would receive from the university if he’s fired — is based on a percentage of guaranteed income, which includes base pay ($2,370,000 in 2016) and four supplemental payments (totaling $1,480,000 annually for the duration of the contract). The $650,000 longevity bonus (up from $525,000 in his previous deal) is not guaranteed but is paid on Jan. 31 each year that he's employed.

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Under the new contract, Ferentz’s buyout percentages for the 2021 through 2025 seasons convert to 100 percent of guaranteed pay for every seven-win season Iowa enjoys from 2016 to 2020.

Suppose Iowa goes 7-6 each of the next five years — remember, Barta said 7-6 "didn't meet expecations" in 2014 — and is fired after the 2020 season. Under that scenario, the university owe Ferentz a 100 percent buyout of guaranteed income — roughly $22.75 million (approximately $15.35 million in base pay, depending on the date of firing, and $7.4 million via 20 supplemental payments).

The early-termination table with percentage of guaranteed income:

  • Year 1 (2016): 100 percent
  • Year 2 (2017): 100 percent
  • Year 3 (2018): 75 percent
  • Year 4 (2019): 75 percent
  • Year 5 (2020): 75 percent
  • Years 6-10 (2021-25): 50 percent*

*For each year Iowa wins at least seven games in Years 1-5, “the liquidated damages in one of Years 6 through 10 will convert from 50 percent of the annual guaranteed amount to 100 percent.”

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz takes his team to the locker room prior to the Hawkeyes' game against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016.

Perks for the staff

Ferentz took care of his assistant coaches in this deal. Iowa's nine core assistants plus strength coach Chris Doyle are scheduled to earn a combined $4,027,000 for the 2016 season. A new provision outlines 100-percent buyouts for each assistant coach, for up to two years, if Ferentz is fired.

At $595K a year, Iowa views Chris Doyle as 'third coordinator'

Ferentz also was given a fresh pool of $250,000 to extend additional raises to his assistant coaches, retroactive to July 1, within 30 days of the contract’s signing (Sept. 5).

And while assistant coaches will continue to have a chance at bonuses based on team performance, they’ll no longer be sharing that money with other staff. Ferentz’s new contract triggers a $125,000 bonus pool should Iowa record at least seven wins, participate in a bowl game and meet academic requirements. The bonus pool drops to $93,750 if academic requirements are not met. This bonus pool can be paid, at Ferentz’s discretion, to anyone from recruiting staff to video staff to training staff to secretaries.

Another significant change: For future assistant coach raises to be activated, achieving a player-graduation threshold is no longer required. An average salary increase of at least 8 percent is triggered if Iowa wins seven games (up from six) and participates in a bowl game. The increase can reach as high as 20 percent if Iowa wins a national championship and the football team achieves an NCAA GSR of at least 67.5, but the increase would be reduced by 2 percent if a 67.5 GSR is not met. Iowa’s most recent football GSR was 71, the fourth straight year of decline.

Leistikow: New Kirk Ferentz deal comes with big rewards, big risks

Private-plane usage

Appendix B offers some new language on Ferentz’s access to private jets.

Previously, Ferentz was allowed “a private jet for his personal use for up to 35 hours per year.”

Now, he has “access to a private jet for personal use for up to 35 hours of flight time per year and at least 50 hours per year for approved business use. Such jet shall be available within 8 hours of the Coach’s request to travel for business.”

That paragraph also adds this: The UI “shall secure two pilots for each trip.”

USA TODAY Sports' Steve Berkowitz contributed to this report.