Texas’ Tom Herman Brings Fired Coaches’ Payday to $65 Million

The University of Texas parted ways with its head football coach, Tom Herman, on Jan. 2 after four mostly unremarkable seasons. What is remarkable is the $15 million buyout -- with an additional $9 million to be paid to his assistants -- the school will have to fork over to get out of the final three years of the coach’s contract.

That sum brings the total buyouts paid to Football Bowl Subdivision coaches this season to about $65 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News, even as many gridiron powerhouses are claiming revenue shortfalls that top $100 million each because of losses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Texas’ Tom Herman Brings Fired Coaches’ Payday to $65 Million

Gus Malzahn’s reported $21.5 million buyout from Auburn University makes up nearly a third of the total and set a record for the largest going-away present paid by a school, topping the $18.9 million Notre Dame University gave to former coach Charlie Weis to leave South Bend in 2009.

The amounts paid to break up with coaches show how lucrative a top-tier college football team can be. A winning program attracts more fans to games, sells more merchandise, boosts alumni engagement and, in many cases, leads to an uptick in applications from out-of-state students who are subject to higher rates of tuition.

The University of South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, whom the school fired in November, is the third member of the $15 million buyout club. His golden parachute, which was initially reported to be $13 million, was actually $15.5 million because the coach never signed a revised contract that would have lowered his exit compensation.

Bloomberg compiled buyout figure based on publicly available contract data and media reports. It’s possible that schools could negotiate lower payments. Not included in the total value is Vanderbilt University’s payout to former coach Derek Mason, as such private schools aren’t subject to public disclosure requirements.

Texas’ Tom Herman Brings Fired Coaches’ Payday to $65 Million

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