Hoke's six-year, incentive-laden deal made official

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Head Coach Brady Hoke advises running back Stephen Hopkins during a practice on Tuesday, March 29th. Buy this photo

BY NICK SPAR
Daily Sports Editor
Published March 30, 2011

Brady Hoke inked a six-year contract with the University on Monday, more than two months after replacing Rich Rodriguez as Michigan’s head football coach.

The incentive-laden deal could earn Hoke $3.25 million annually. He will be compensated $2 million this year, and his base salary will increase $100,000 each season. He will also earn a $1.5 million “stay bonus” after his third year at the helm of the Wolverines and another $1.5 million bonus if he’s still coaching Michigan after the 2016 season.

The incentives in Hoke’s deal put him in the upper third among Big Ten coaches in terms of salary. He will earn $75,000 this season if the Wolverines reach any bowl game and $125,000 if the team reaches the Capital One Bowl or Outback Bowl, games in which the second and third best Big Ten teams typically play.

He will also receive a $500,000 bonus if the team wins the Big Ten Championship game, which Hoke said was the ultimate goal for the program on a yearly basis — even more important than winning a national title.

Not too shabby for someone who blindly accepted Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon’s initial offer more than two months ago, without knowing a dollar amount.

But Hoke says he still couldn’t care less about the money.

“I couldn't tell you what’s in the contract other than my signature,” he said yesterday when the University released the details of the contract.

If Hoke does eventually reach the $3.25 million salary mark, he would earn nearly five times the amount he earned last year as the head coach at San Diego State.

For Brandon, it was money well spent.

“It's a big job with a lot of expectations, and we feel very good about how much we're compensating him to help us reach those expectations,” Brandon said in an interview with The Associated Press.

He later added: “The economics were worked out in minutes — not hours or days. It was quick, easy and stress-free, but it took several weeks to get done because we let the lawyers do their work with the contract language.”

Hoke was a defensive line coach under Lloyd Carr in 2002, and he led Ball State to an astounding 12-1 record in 2008 — the Cardinals were a 5-7 squad just two seasons before.

He then made the transition to San Diego State after the 2008 season and guided the Aztecs to an 8-4 record in 2010. The team beat Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23, and Hoke helped put a second football program back on the map.

But when Michigan came calling in January, there was no doubt Hoke would end up in Ann Arbor.

“The University offered (my wife) Laura and I an opportunity to coach at Michigan, and that's been my dream,” Hoke said. “Nothing will change my focus.”

At his introductory press conference, Hoke said there was “no doubt” he would coach at Michigan forever. But if his contract were to be terminated without cause, his buyout would pay him more than Rodriguez was paid after he was fired.

Rodriguez left Michigan with $2.5 million in buyout money — Hoke would get $3 million if he was fired following the third year of his contract.

And while there are vast differences in the structure of Hoke's contract compared to Rodriguez's, Hoke's average salary might end up being higher than his predecessor's. Rodriguez earned $2.5 million per year during his three-year tenure.

The contracts had similar termination with cause provisions, as both state that the coach's contract could be terminated for violating NCAA, Big Ten conference or University rules.

Like Rodriguez, Hoke will be entitled to the best available tickets for Michigan athletic events. He will also be allotted an exclusive private viewing box for all home football games, which may be used to host family, friends, donors or for business purposes.

In the contract, the University agreed to pay San Diego State $1 million to satisfy the buyout terms of Hoke's contract with the Aztecs.

Hoke’s agent Trace Armstrong handled the specifics of the deal with the University, allowing Hoke to prepare for the team’s spring game on April 15 and its opener against Western Michigan on Sep. 3.

“My focus has been on the football program and will continue to be on making this program the best in America,” Hoke said.