Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Comparing Mark Stoops’ buyout to the rest of the SEC


There’s been a lot of talk about buyouts around here the past few days. As you’ve surely heard by now, if the University of Kentucky wants to fire Mark Stoops after this season, they will have to pay him $12 million dollars. This morning, Mark Story reported that that figure is actually closer to $18 million when you factor in his assistants’ salaries.

I don’t know about you guys, but that sounds like an astronomical number to me. In fact, the more you examine Stoops’ contract extension from October 29, 2014, the less it makes sense. I spent the day researching the contracts of other SEC football coaches and discovered that not only would Mark Stoops get the sixth biggest check of any coach in the SEC if he were to be fired without cause after this season, he’s one of only TWO coaches in the league who wouldn’t owe the school a dime if he left for another program. The only other football coach in the SEC without a buyout clause listed in their contract (that I could find, at least)? Nick Saban. On the basketball side, John Calipari as well. Considering what they’ve accomplished, that makes sense; in Stoops’ case, not so much.

When Stoops signed the contract extension back in October 2014, we were all probably too wrapped up in the haze of beating South Carolina and Steve Spurrier to care about the lack of a buyout clause, but looking back, that was an incredibly bizarre (some would say dumb) move. At the time, Mitch Barnhart said he didn’t believe in buyout clauses because he wanted to inspire loyalty from his employees, when in reality, he made the program extremely vulnerable should Stoops want to bolt to another school. Obviously, this issue is obsolete given Kentucky’s current situation, but the oddity is worth noting.

On the flip side, if Kentucky sends Stoops packing after this season, they would owe him a mighty big paycheck, all for a record that’s currently no better than Bill Curry’s or Joker Phillips’. For perspective, UK would have to pay Stoops more to go away than LSU would Les Miles or Auburn Gus Malzahn, two coaches on the hot seat at traditional power programs. As I asked myself several times today, what in the world?

Here are Kentucky football’s buyouts compared to the rest of the SEC, ranked in order from heftiest to smallest. (Note: All of the buyouts listed below are for firings without cause)

Nick Saban, Alabama

  • 2016 Salary: $7.09 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: None
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $23.3 million

Bret Bielema, Arkansas

  • 2016 Salary: $4.06 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $3 million in 2016
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $15.4 million before 2018; $7.9 million before 2020

Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M

  • 2016 Salary: $5 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program before the end of the 2016 season: $5 million
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $15 million (payable within 60 days of termination, nonetheless!)

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss

  • 2016 Salary: $4.7 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: Not disclosed (Was $225,000 at Arkansas State)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: Not disclosed, but the terms of his old contract suggest approximately $15 million

Kirby Smart, Georgia

  • 2016 Salary: $3.75 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $3.75 million in 2016
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $13.5 million

Mark Stoops, Kentucky

  • 2016 Salary: $3.5 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: None (!!!!!)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $12 million; With assistants, nearly $18 million

Jim McElwain, Florida

  • 2016 Salary: $4.25 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $3.5 million in 2016 (Florida pays $2.5 million to Colorado State)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $11.25 million ($2.25 million for each remaining year of contract)

Butch Jones, Tennessee

  • 2016 salary: $4.13 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $4 million in 2016
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $10 million

Will Muschamp, South Carolina

  • 2016 Salary: $3 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $7 million in 2016
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $9.1 million (70% of annual guaranteed compensation left on contract)

Gus Malzahn, Auburn

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

  • 2016 Salary: $4 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: Undisclosed (Was $1.4 million before his contract extension in 2014)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: Remainder of unpaid salary (Exact figures undisclosed, but believed to be around $8.5 million)

Les Miles, LSU

  • 2016 Salary: $4.39 million
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: $1.25 million if he goes to the University of Michigan
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: $6.4 million

Barry Odom, Missouri

Derek Mason, Vanderbilt

  • 2016 Salary: Not disclosed (Vanderbilt is a private institution)
  • Buyout if leaves for another program: Not disclosed (Vanderbilt is a private institution)
  • Buyout if fired after 2016 season: Not disclosed (Vanderbilt is a private institution)


And for fun — because I don’t see Barnhart and UK putting together $12-18 million to get rid of Stoops and his staff this year unless the train totally derails and we lose to New Mexico State or Austin Peay — here’s a list of some of the highest coaching buyouts in college football history:

  • Charlie Weis (Notre Dame): $18.9 million
  • Bo Pelini (Nebraska): $7.9 million
  • Gene Chizik (Auburn): $7.5 million
  • Will Muschamp (Florida): $6.3 million
  • Charlie Weis (Kansas): $5.635 million
  • Jeff Tedford (Cal): $5.5 million
  • Derek Dooley (Tennessee): $5 million
  • Brady Hoke (Michigan): $3 million
  • Joker Phillips (Kentucky): $2.55 million 


Again, how in the world did we get here?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

47 responses to “Comparing Mark Stoops’ buyout to the rest of the SEC”

  1. jhnny

    Well done Ms. T and well researched. And people ask why newspapers are dead?

    1. Ridge Runner

      Agreed jhnny. Nice work indeed Ms T

    2. Luether

      This could be one of your greatest works, Mrs TT!

  2. Rsn2GoBlu

    Charlie Weis is a very rich man.

  3. Catlogic15

    And what if we go 4-8 and it’s projected UK season ticket sales drop 40%? What’s that worth in dollars?
    Gotta consider the aggregate. Buyout might be more palatable.

    1. catdaddyd

      SEC Network covers expenses. If Stoops wouldn’t forfeit his buyout, then let him suffer in the mess he created.

  4. scorpiocard

    Looks like Charlie Weis has made a career out of getting rich by getting fired. Jeez…

    And yeah, your AD is clearly an idiot. Consider he gave Stoops this deal when his record as a head coach was 7-13!!!! Most of those other coaches above had proven track records as a head coach before they got those deals. And they are for the most part not even close to being as good a deal for the coach.

    This is truly mind blowing.

    uk football and the fan base has always been fun to watch every season, due to their never ending habit of getting excited for no justifiable reason, and then inexplicably being crushed and surprised when slapped in the face with the inevitable reality every season over and over and over again. But this year takes the cake. It is taking on an Othello like Shakespeareian quality to it.

    Absolutely outstanding theater!

    And yes…great investigative work Mrs. TT

    1. Booby Petrino

      Can’t be half as entertaining as the show that your Sex Scandal U has been putting on for a while now. You guys want to win at all costs, even if that means paying coaches who knock up hos on restaurant tables, get fired elsewhere for unethical behavior involving yet another affair, and hire hookers for players.

    2. Billy Hill

      How quickly Tard fans forget the Kragthorpe’s and the Smith’s and Cooper’s, etc……

    3. scorpiocard

      There is no denying that has been a show too, although I am sure you have enjoyed that one a lot more than I have. It is quite the irony, however, that a fan of one of the most scandalized and penalized schools in NCAA history would accuse the school I root for as being “win at all costs”. That is funny. I am not interested in going back and forth about scandals, as the back and forth becomes childish very quickly. It is two people who live in glass houses throwing stones at each other. Keep in mind though, that with your track record and history, that I have a LOT more stones to throw than you do. Lets not go there. I will acknowledge it is our turn to be on the NCAA chopping block this time.

      But you have to admit, as even you all say yourselves, that your football program has its in special and unique quality of being effed up.

    4. Billy Hill

      Hey man, if we played in now-defunct conferences for most of our history like UL, you wouldn’t have much to laugh about, either.

      And please, I’d like a head-to-head count on scandals for each school. I think you’d be surprised.

      In the meantime, here’s some “facts” to go up against your “most scandalized and penalized schools in NCAA history” claim……

      Most violations in NCAA history:

      SMU, 10

      Arizona State, 9

      Oklahoma, 8

      Wichita State, 8

      Auburn, 7

      Florida State, 7

      Texas A&M, 7

      University of California (Berkeley), 7

      Georgia, 7

      Memphis, 7

      Minnesota, 7

      Wisconsin, 7

      West Virginia, 7

      Baylor, 6

      Kansas State, 6

      Mississippi State, 6

      UCLA, 6

      Cincinnati, 6

      Illinois, 6

      Kansas, 6

      Miami (Florida), 6

      Southern California, 6

      Texas-Rio Grande Valley, 6

      Source: NCAA

      But since you wanna throw stones… it looks like UL found the right conference to join

      NCAA Probation by Conference

      Conference Sanctioned Seasons

      Atlantic Coast 18 38
      Big 12 25 56
      Big East 8 14
      Big Ten 21 48
      Conference USA 22 51
      Independents 2 3
      Mid-American 3 4
      Mountain West 6 12
      Pac-12 31 64
      Southeastern 35 77
      Sun Belt 5 13
      Western Athletic 3 8

    5. scorpiocard
    6. Billy Hill

      Which is not the most in history. 24th, in fact.

    7. scorpiocard

      Oh…and 1 of only 2 major schools along with SMU to receive the death penalty.

      I actually said Idid NOT want to go there. Can you read?

    8. Billy Hill

      LOL. I like that you researched it yourself, just to see where your scandal-ridden program stands. Amirite?

    9. Billy Hill

      We have NEVER received the death penalty.

      Keep looking.

    10. scorpiocard
    11. scorpiocard

      LOL! Not 24th! Tied for 5th place with 6 majors.

      You really should have never pushed this. I wasn’t going there. Quit now. I know…you’re stupid.

    12. Billy Hill

      Did you come here to make friends, or be universally hated?

    13. Beavis

      Yep, nothing like a Card fan with blinders on. I mean , your beloved school has the FBI, IRS and the NCAA investigating them right now. U of L has never been so popular. Not to mention the dumpster fire the is the administration right now. What is next , African American studies. Enjoy the game Saturday.

    14. scorpiocard

      Billy I have been posting on ksr a heck of a lot longer than you have. As I have said in the past I am a Cards fan who grew up in Louisville, but went to UK. I literally used to smoke weed with two players on the 78 championship team. I was in Knoxville in 76 and in 84 when UK beat UT in their place in football. I make rivalry jokes for sure, but I also just comment on things too. There is nothing in my first post that UK fans have not said too. Get some perspective kid. It’s sports. It’s entertainment.

  5. bosshogg24

    Mitch Barnhart makes deals like a twelve year old, he needs to get Trumps book “The Art Of The Deal”! I wish you would post Barnhart’s contract, does he have a buy out and how much?

    1. UK Big Board Update

      BBN, blast this troll on twitter.

  6. inside info2

    Good job Mrs. TT.

    Very interesting. And Mitch’s excuse of no penalty if Stoops left was crap. He just didn’t negotiate well. I really can’t believe more people aren’t holding Barnhart responsible for this as much as Stoops.

  7. Souf beach Lou

    which is why I cannot understand why Mitch Barnhart is somehow off limits. He should be fired immediately! Does any one remember the fiasco of the “memorandum of understanding for Gillespie and the lawsuits that followed? How about the 800K to tweak the “k” in the logo? He has been absolutely reckless with the schools money it is an embarrassment. buyout clauses only incentivizes losing, rather than earning by winning. we got bamboozled. Welfare for rich douchebags is what this is. In a state like Kentucky where people are really struggling, they should be embarrassed to be seen in public.

    1. Sentient Third Eye

      Barnhart is the only true AD UK has ever had. Prior to him, we were the school that almost always finished last in every sport besides men’s basketball because only bare-bones focus or money was given to any other sport.

  8. BluKudzu

    This is unpardonable. Mitch needs to come up with a plan to fix this mess or be fired.

  9. roundball fool

    Nice work, Tyler. Looks like we ” got took ” again.

    We have the Stoops debacle, Mitch’s stealth contract extension and don’t forget Eli’s sweetheart deal after Bevin’s budget cuts. The hell with a Pulitzer Prize let’s just have Richard Essex show up and start asking uncomfortable questions of all these grifters.

  10. GroundControlToNumber9

    Barnhart is unqualified as an AD based on 14 years of results.

    Basketball ========

    1. 2002 – 2008 – He hung onto Tubby Smith for too long.
    * no Final Fours for 8 years in a row
    * 5 of 10 years as coach were 10 or more loss seasons.

    2. 2008 – He turned down an offer to Calipari… and offered Billie Gillispie. Then hung onto him for 2 years (after all the flags that occured in year one).

    Football =========

    1. He fired a 7-5 Guy Morriss (after 1 year on the job).

    2. Hired Rich Brooks who people claim was a success.

    2003 Kentucky 4—8 1—7 T—5th
    2004 Kentucky 2—9 1—7 T—5th
    2005 Kentucky 3—8 2—6 6th
    2006 Kentucky 8—5 4—4 T—3rd Bowl: W Music City
    2007 Kentucky 8—5 3—5 T—4th Bowl: W Music City
    2008 Kentucky 7—6 2—6 6th Bowl: W Liberty
    2009 Kentucky 7—6 3—5 T—4th Bowl: L Music City

    16-39 vs SEC
    39-47 vs Everyone

    It’s not about how you do against cup cakes. Yet in 7 years his total record still wasn’t above 50%. This is not a success.

    Not one season did we have a winning record in the SEC (best was 2006 = 4-4). This is not a success.

    3. So what does Mitch do when Brooks retires?

    Barnhart hires 2 coaches in a row who have 0 wins as a head coach at any level.

    Never won a game… even as a high school coach. Neither Joker nor Stoops.

    This is Barnhart’s “Strategy” to being successful in the SEC? Hiring 2 guys who have never been a coach before??? Whatever happens with Stoops… Mitch Barnhart must go… NOW!

    1. UK Big Board Update

      ^^^ RETARD ALERT!!!! ^^^

      Way to bend stats and facts to meet your agenda.

    2. Cats or Die

      Wrong. Guy Morris left for Baylor.

    3. Cats or Die

      He was not fired.

    4. inside info2

      Guy Morris wasn’t fired but he didn’t exactly leave for Baylor either. He didn’t get the raise he deserved from Barnhart so he took the best job available. Which would be another mark against Barnhart. He didn’t give a guy a raise that had a successful season but handed the house to a guy that didn’t.

    5. Billy Hill

      MAN, we have some idiotic fans **coughGroundControl**coughinsideinfo2**

  11. Cats or Die

    I don’t reckon our athletic programs could take a hit like that. I think Stoops will be back even if he only gets 3 or 4 wins. Barnhart held out with Brooks when he was getting a lot of heat. With that much money on the line you have to think he will do the same with Stoops. He genuinely believed/believes in the guy.

  12. RickE

    Little brother played in front of 25,000 people in the CARRIER DOME this past week. They’ll always be a small fry in the worst conference in he country.

    1. RickE

      Smoke and mirrors.

  13. Joe Dan Gorman

    Obama and John Kerry negotiated on our behalf…. lol

  14. Rick_S

    Barnfart needs to be fired tomorrow…He hired both Billy G and Stupid Stoops.What kinda idiot gave a contract ext to a guy that was 5-7 both years and i don’t think he had anyone knocking on his door to hire least let him get to a bowl before throwing more money at him….He did hire Cal, but was forced to..Oh he also pays Madman Mitchell way too much coin

    1. JoChan

      He was not forced to hire Cal. And the women’s team has more success under Mitchell (who Barnhart hired) than ever before in history. Also, the baseball, softball, volleyball, men’s tennis, golf, and both soccer teams have all been more successful since Barnhart than ever before. Last thing “Barnfart” as a name for Barnhart disqualifies you automatically to have an opinion that matters.

    2. Rick_S

      JoChan you might want to do a little research..Barnfart was pretty much forced to hire cal..Mike Pratt had a lot to do with it…

      PS anyone that hires Billy G and Stupid Stoops should be fired..So Barnfart needs to go with Marky

    3. Billy Hill

      “Stupid Stoops”, huh? I bet you were like the 3rd best colorer in your Special Ed class!

  15. Art Vandalay

    I get the spirit of what Mitchells was trying to do… that point it looked like we might finally have something building towards a strong future. There was lots of chatter of other, bigger programs sniffing around Poops.

    If he would very been hired away by a big time program we would have been both irate and devastated.

    But good grief the is just crazy. I had no idea his solution was sooooooo far out of line with common practice. At any other school and without Cal on board there’s no way Mitch would keep his job.

  16. 206Bones

    Yes, he is unqualified as an AD, however the average fan does not realize that he is exactly what Eli and the BOT want.
    Unless the university feels the the pressure of $’s it will not even be a mention at the BOT garden party.

  17. wildcatmatt27

    How did we get here? We have a dumbass AD. That’s how!!

  18. Patrick_David

    We are two weeks into this season….give me a break. Call me at the end of the season when we have something to talk about…..

  19. Billy Hill