Curators put limit on length of coaches' contracts

Saturday, July 22, 2006

New guidelines could put Mizzou at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to luring a coach.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Coaches looking for long-term deals of more than five years can cross the University of Missouri off their wish lists.

With rancor over the terms of the settlement with former University of Missouri-Columbia basketball coach Quin Snyder and new coach Mike Anderson's prospective buyout still fresh, curators of the four-campus University of Missouri system on Friday quickly endorsed a plan giving them greater oversight of athletics, including coaches' contracts.

The new guidelines -- which can be waived by the curators -- could put the system's flagship campus in Columbia at a competitive disadvantage in attracting big-time football or basketball coaches, acknowledged system President Elson Floyd.

"There will be some prospective coaches ... who may not look at the University of Missouri," Floyd told curators, meeting at a Kansas City hotel.

Curator Don Walsworth noted the University of Texas, a Big 12 Conference rival that won the national championship in football last year, recently gave football coach Mack Brown a 10-year, $25 million contract extension.

Missouri, by contrast, lured Anderson from Alabama-Birmingham with a five-year deal worth $850,000 annually, including television and radio duties and other related tasks. Should he be fired, Anderson would receive $500,000 for each remaining year on his contract -- an amount double his base salary of $250,000.

That clause didn't sit well with curator Doug Russell, who said the buyout terms presented to curators when they considered hiring Anderson four months ago changed once the contract was signed.

"We were advised one thing, [and] what turned out to be the contract was substantially different," he said.

The new guidelines, which did not require a vote by curators, preserves the authority of University of Missouri-Columbia chancellor Brady Deaton and his counterparts at the Rolla, St. Louis and Kansas City campuses to oversee athletics.

Some curators had previously suggested that Missouri-Columbia athletic director Mike Alden, criticized for his handling of Snyder's forced resignation, be required to report directly to Floyd or the curators themselves, a group of 10 political appointees.

Floyd responded with the new executive order, which increases the athletic reporting requirements to curators.

Chancellors are now required to submit annual reports that track graduation rates by sport, list exceptions to admission requirements and detail the athletic departments' financial health.

Contracts for head coaches and athletic directors will include annual performance reviews. And any buyouts will be limited to the annual base salary for any remaining years on the contract.

Floyd also is now required to keep curators "advised at all times of major issues affecting intercollegiate athletics, including those that have the potential to engender a high degree of public interest."

Snyder, who left Missouri with six regular season games remaining after saying he was forced out by Alden, received $574,000 to leave. Were the new policy in place, he would have been limited to a settlement of roughly $390,000, or twice his base annual pay of $195,000.

The greater scrutiny of long-term contracts will not be limited to athletics. At Floyd's suggestion, curators unanimously approved creation of a Compensation and Human Resources Committee that will oversee such contracts as well as broader issues of salary, recruitment and hiring and firing policies.

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