Chip Towers has done a laudable job comparing the contract Kirby Smart just signed and the last contract prepared for Mark Richt, which he didn’t sign. A few comparisons are in order, starting with the biggie:
The biggest difference is Smart’s new contract includes the controversial “conduct and ethics clause.” That condition was a major sticking point for Richt and his representation after he agreed to a raise and new contract in January of 2015.
In fact, Richt never did sign that last deal. So technically he was operating under the guidelines of the contract he signed in 2012. Ultimately, though, UGA honored the handshake agreement and paid Richt based on the agreed-upon increased compensation — $4 million – when it fired Richt on Nov. 28.
But while Richt never signed off on that clause, Smart did. It is included on Page 9, Section 3B, of Smart’s the 33-page contract. That contract – executed in late May – was turned over to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week in compliance with an opens record request.
It is essentially a disciplinary clause and it is found in the compensation section of Smart’s new contract. It gives Georgia Athletic Association the right to withhold pay from the head coach in the case of a material violation of “one or more of the duties, obligations or expectations … that do not rise to a level warranting termination.”
Call it the “Jack Bauerle Clause.” The legendary swim coach, who has led the Bulldogs to seven national championships over 36 seasons, was indefinitely suspended and his pay and bonuses frozen in 2014 while his program was under NCAA investigation for providing extra benefits for a star swimmer. After those charges were substantiated, Bauerle was also ordered to repay more than $100,000 in legal fees the athletic association paid to defend the charges.
Financial penalties previously had not been spelled out in any coaches’ contracts. But now they are. Going forward, it is “standard operating procedure” for all of the Bulldogs’ head coaches, according to McGarity.
“I’d just say that events that occur around the country often lead to changes in contracts everywhere,” McGarity said. “Things have to be adjusted all the time, not only here but around the country.”
So Smart’s contract now states that UGA has “the right to withhold or reduce performance bonuses … and other compensation payable to Smart … by a maximum of 25 percent for up to 12 months.” Furthermore, it states that the athletic association can recommend suspension “with or without pay” for up to one year and recommend that the University “take other disciplinary action.”
I’d call that Georgia Way 1, Smart 0. I wonder if they’re making people in the AD’s office agree to that clause, too.
While that’s big, I find this one more intriguing, just because of some other scuttlebutt I was privy to when word came that Richt hadn’t signed his last contract.
Meanwhile, the narrative has been that Smart is making fewer public appearances. In reality, according to the “public relations obligations” section of Smart’s contract, he actually will be doing more PR. However, his requirements are oriented more toward endorsement and fund-raising opportunities than those of a pep rally nature.
Like Richt, Smart must also make “no fewer 12 unpaid personal appearances” before Bulldog Clubs throughout the Southeast and “a reasonable number of appearances” on the Bulldog Hotline and the coaches many other media platforms. However, Paragraph 1F states also calls for Smart to spend at least two days helping the president fund-raise, make no fewer than 12 annual endorsement appearances at the UGA’s request for the football program and that any payments for such “university-related appearances be negotiated and kept by the association.” In addition, Smart must be available for three personal appearance son behalf of Nike or any future equipment provider and up to three appearances on behalf of IMG or any future rights holder.
Smart agreed to these requirements, but with an added caveat: “The Association and University acknowledge and understand that Smart’s primary obligation shall be to the serve as the head coach of the University’s football team,” and these university-related appearances “shall be subject to his roles of directing the team, including but not limited to its practice, playing and workout schedules and the recruitment of potential student-athletes.”
Smart also included the word “reasonable” to another about complying with the AD’s requests for appearances, “subject to Smart’s schedule in fulfilling his primary role as head football coach.”
It’s not a sticking point, McGarity said. “He wants to get out and fund-raise,” he said. “He’s already done that. Kirby’s wired that way.”
That is so much horseshit. The football coach’s heavy involvement in raising funds for the school became a huge necessity when Adams was still president because he was toxic to a major chunk of the donor class and Richt’s popularity was something of a remedy for that, but it was – at least from what I was told – never exactly something Richt was overwhelmingly fired up to do. And let’s not forget McGarity’s famous pronouncement upon taking the job about relieving Richt of certain non-coaching responsibilities that were supposedly interfering with his time allocation.
Let’s put it this way: you don’t put contractual limitations on something you’re wired for, unless your definition of wired and your employer’s differ.
Finally, at least one dumb, micromanaged vestige of the Georgia Way has been discarded.
Smart had Georgia remove a clause in paragraph that required Richt to keep “the recruitment of junior college athletes to a minimum.” Smart signed one “JUCO” transfer in the 2016 class in wide receiver Javon Wims of Hinds Community College and is actively recruiting more for 2017.
Yeah, remind me again about the full-throated support from B-M for Richt. Good for Kirby getting that set of handcuffs tossed.
Assuming Georgia takes off under Smart – which I hope – it’s the next contract that’ll be really fun to watch. Especially after Jimmy Sexton fields a few job offers from other schools.