Josh Heupel to receive six-year contract, $4 million annually as Tennessee football coach
Josh Heupel and Tennessee football agreed to a six-year contract that will pay him $4 million annually, according to the memorandum of understanding obtained by Knox News on Wednesday.
New UT athletics director Danny White introduced Heupel as Tennessee's coach Wednesday, four days after White was introduced. Both were hired from UCF.
The contract will include a clause that would add a seventh year if Tennessee faces NCAA punishments in the form of a postseason ban of two or more years and/or a scholarship reduction of eight or more. The buyout provisions also would extend by a year if such penalties are imposed.
Tennessee fired Jeremy Pruitt for cause on Jan. 18, citing an investigation that revealed sweeping recruiting violations within the football program. Chancellor Donde Plowman called the investigation's findings "stunning" based on the amount of violations and number of people involved.
The university expects the actions of Pruitt and staff members he oversaw will result in multiple NCAA Level I and/or Level II violations.
If Tennessee fires Heupel without cause before Dec. 15, 2023, it would owe him the remaining salary on his contract. His buyout drops to 75% of the remaining salary if he is fired between Dec. 15, 2023, and Dec. 15, 2025. It drops to 50% for the final two years.
Heupel would be required to "use his reasonable and best efforts" to mitigate the buyout by seeking comparable employment.
Heupel would owe Tennessee $8 million if he leaves for another job prior to Dec. 15, 2022. That figure drops by $2 million in each of the following two years, then $1 million in the two years after that before ending on Dec. 15, 2026.
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Tennessee and Pruitt agreed to a contract extension and raise in September that would have paid him $4.2 million annually. Pruitt earned $3.8 million on his initial contract from December 2017.
Heupel was awarded a contract extension and raise after his first season at UCF. His deal with the Knights ran through 2023-24 and paid him $2.3 million annually.
Heupel's buyout at UCF is about $3.5 million. Heupel's initial contract with UCF was a five-year deal worth $1.7 million annually.
Heupel's incentive bonuses with Tennessee maxes out at $1.2 million per season.
His incentive structure is as follows:
Winning the SEC Championship Game: $300,000
Appearing in the SEC Championship Game: $100,000
Winning the national title: $500,000
Appearing in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game: $400,000
Reaching the College Football Playoff: $300,000
Playing in a College Football Playoff Access Bowl Game: $200,000
Playing in a bowl game: $100,000
Top 5 finish in AP Top 25, Coaches Poll or CFP Poll: $150,000
Top 10 finish in AP Top 25, Coaches Poll or CFP Poll: $100,000
Top 25 finish in AP Top 25, Coaches Poll or CFP Poll: $50,000
National Coach of the Year award: $100,000
AP SEC Coach of the Year: $50,000
Single-year or four-year Academic Progress Rates of 985 or greater: $100,000
Single-year or four-year Academic Progress Rates of 945 or greater: $50,000