No Longer Coach, Jim Calhoun Will Still Be Paid Nicely At UConn

Jim Calhoun isn't going to stomp the sidelines at any more UConn games, but he will continue to be paid as if he were among the highest-paid basketball coaches in the nation. In fact, he will earn more not to coach the Huskies this season than he did to coach them last season.

Calhoun, who announced his retirement last week after 26 seasons at UConn, is guaranteed at least $2,742,307 of the $3 million that he was scheduled to receive between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, in the fourth year of a five-year, $13 million contract that he signed in 2010. Calhoun made $2.7 million in Year 3.

If Calhoun elects to take a final $1 million retirement payment by the March 15, 2013 deadline, the total compensation rises to about $3.75 million.

Calhoun supporters, no doubt, will argue that he built the program, won three national titles, had a major role in making State U a bigger and better place and deserves every dime of any golden parachute. Detractors will point out NCAA violations, academic sanctions and misplaced athletic priorities on college campuses.

Either way, Calhoun has enough money to tell you he doesn't give a damn what you think.

In tweets, blogs, broadcasts and stories in the past week, Calhoun's compensation for this fiscal year was reported in myriad ways. On Wednesday, the school reconfirmed complete figures that were made available last week.

By remaining on the job while recuperating from a broken hip sustained Aug. 4 when he fell off a bicycle, Calhoun received the entire $1.3 million due him on Sept. 7, the first payroll period of September, for speaking fees and media appearances. The second of the semiannual payments is due in January, and as part of a transition agreement signed on Sept. 13, the amount was lowered from $1.3 million to $1.15 million.

There's $2.45 million so far.

As part of the 2010 coaching deal, one save a few modifications that is still in full effect until March 21, 2013, Calhoun will receive a $400,000 annual salary, payable in equal installments every two weeks. That would mean he'd receive roughly 75 percent of the $400,000 [$292,307].

There's $2.742 million guaranteed.

According to Article 10.1 of his 2010 deal, Calhoun can choose to accept a $1 million payment or an appointment of up to five years at $300,000 a year. That deadline is set in the transitional agreement at March 15.

Clearly, Calhoun's legal team struck a terrific deal for its client.

Calhoun stuck around so deep into September that athletic director Warde Manuel had no choice but to name Kevin Ollie head coach for one season. If Ollie, who Calhoun pushed as his successor, is deemed to have done a strong job, there will be no national search. The job will be his long-term. Giving Ollie one season is seen as a compromise between "interim" and a multiyear deal.

There wasn't nearly as much compromise in Calhoun's share of the pie. He is guaranteed all but $258,000 that he would have received if he had coached this season. In fact, if Calhoun decides in March to remain as coach emeritus at that $300,000 annual salary, the $258,000 gap would be closed even more by June 30.

Idealists, moralists, ethicists and political activists like Ken Krayeske, who once famously was told by Calhoun that he wasn't giving one dime back of his salary, would probably argue that the noble thing would have been for Calhoun to retire in August and not take that $1.3 million September bonanza. How many of us really would forgo that much money? It makes for a good debate. Calhoun, of course, also can try to render that argument moot forever by insisting that he wasn't certain of retirement until Sept. 12. It's up to you to believe that or not.

More directly, the question to be asked is why is the school making the second payment of $1.15 million in January and paying him at the rate of $400,000 a year? Why veer from the original contract provisions for Calhoun either to take the $1 million final payment or the five-year, $300,000 annual appointment? Why did the school negotiate a transitional agreement and name Calhoun special assistant to the director of athletics through March 21 and stuff another $1.25 million or so in his pocket by continuing to pay him on his coach's deal?

According to the transition agreement, Calhoun's new role will include various athletic and nonathletic fundraising, advising Manuel on departmental, Big East and NCAA issues and serving as a mentor and adviser to coaches and athletes. Would that be the kind of things he'd be doing as coach emeritus, too?

Manuel directed me to UConn chief legal officer Richard Orr for an answer, which in turn led me to university spokesman Mike Enright.

"I don't think Jim was at a place in life to take the $1 million or stay for five years," Enright said. "We wanted to give him a chance to make the decision. He still wanted to work. We wanted him to still work. I don't think in September he was ready for that life decision. I think in March he'll have a much clearer vision."

If Calhoun's input is so vital, so worth an extra $1.25 million, this introduces the question of how much influence will Calhoun continue to yield and is this ultimately good for Ollie's independence and development? I will say this: If Calhoun turns on the charm and turns into a champion fundraiser, he'll be worth the loot.

Calhoun, 70, was reported to be the ninth highest-paid coach in the nation last season at $2.7 million. Given the $1 million retirement payment, in essence, his $13 million deal is really worth $14 million. If he takes the final payment in March, Calhoun will leave only a little more than the $3 million on Year 5 of the contract on the table. He will have received $11 million for being head coach for three years and an adviser for seven months. That's an annual breakdown that only Rick Pitino, John Calipari and Coach K would probably decline.

Ollie, meanwhile, will get $384,615 for coaching the team for seven months until his one-year annualized deal expires on April 4. By that point, it will be clear if Ollie stays long-term or if there will be a national search.

At the end of the day, a school spokesman pointed out, the money originally budgeted to pay Calhoun for the 2012-13 fiscal year will roughly be equal to that budgeted for Calhoun and Ollie.

Yet by any measure, these are generous terms for Calhoun, especially when he left a program ineligible to compete in the 2013 Big East and NCAA tournaments. Money distributed to the conference by the NCAA is based upon how many games conference teams play in the NCAA Tournament. A conference ordinarily divides the money equally among member schools. Manuel said Wednesday that he is in discussions with new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco to determine if and how much of a financial hit UConn will take. Manual said it was not clear.

For his part, Manuel said he believed that Calhoun would return as coach through the early part of the summer. He said he didn't really have doubts until the end of August and wasn't told for sure until Calhoun told him on the morning of Sept. 12. Of course, by then lawyers from both sides also had been working on the details of the transitional contract.

A contract that financially will stand as victory No. 874 for Calhoun.

University-Connecticut

CHICAGO