In the works since the week following Georgia’s SEC Championship game loss to LSU, Richt’s deal was finalized and approved by the athletic association Thursday afternoon.
And, in a somewhat unexpected move, athletic director Greg McGarity also received a contract extension.
As it pertains to Richt’s new deal, the main components of the extension were agreed upon by late January, but the holdup stemmed from “some points that Mark’s advisors wanted to talk about, but they were basically all semantics,” McGarity said.
“I don’t think there’s anything negative here at all. I would tell you if there was back and forth, tough issues, tough discussions. It was more or less things we agreed upon from the very beginning.”
The basics are as follows: Richt’s base salary remains virtually the same at $2.81 million annually. This figure is the sum of his compensation for his base salary ($400,000), radio and television services ($1.12 million), the operation of football camps ($129,340) and equipment endorsements ($1.16 million). Note that this number does not include outside endorsements, such as Richt’s past ties to the Ford Motor Company.
A few details in the contract were differing from the previous deal. Richt’s new contract doubles the maximum amount he could potentially earn in performance bonuses, from $400,000 to $800,000. A few examples of these bonuses: Richt will receive $150,000 for playing in the SEC Championship game – another $50,000 to win. Participation in what is labeled as a “Tier 1” BCS Bowl (e.g., the Capital One Bowl) equates to $100,000. An appearance in the BCS Championship Game pays $300,000, with another $200,000 on top if Georgia wins the national title.
Mark Richt is 106-38 in 11 seasons at Georgia.
“It’s something Greg believes in philosophically, giving big incentives for a high level of achievement,” Richt said. “You want to be able to reward that.”
Also changing are the details of Richt’s buyout -– both in the event Richt himself initiates his departure from Georgia or if the athletic association terminates him.
Per the new contract, should Richt choose to leave Georgia, for any reason, he doesn’t owe the university anything. It was written in his former deal, which was set to expire in 2013, that should Richt leave, he would owe the university $2 million. McGarity explains the rationale behind this change.
“I just feel there should not be a financial anchor,” McGarity said. “... Life is too short. If someone wants to move on, I have no problem with that.”
Richt added: “I think the bottom line is for me, gosh, I think I’ve been here long enough for everybody to understand ... Georgia is my home. Georgia is where I want to be. Georgia is the only job I want, the only job I have ever wanted as a head coach, and that’s the way it’s been from the very beginning.”
Should Richt be fired before the end of 2012, the contract stipulates Georgia would owe him $4.8 million in a buyout.
Figuring into this number is the $2.4 million Richt is owed due to a longevity bonus stemming from the previous contract. Due to tax complications, Richt cannot receive the bonus until after December of 2013, when the previous deal expires. Until then, the money is sitting in a non-interest drawing account.
Richt would be paid $800,000 for each year of his new contract extension, providing for the other half of the buyout.
Richt’s buyout would be $2.4 million should he be fired at the end of 2013. He would be owed $1.6 million if he were terminated at the end of 2014.
“This is a positive deal,” McGarity said. “It’s something we feel good about moving forward.”
Richt is entering his 12th season leading the Bulldogs. With a record of 106-38 and four SEC title game appearances, Richt is the longest tenured coach (at one school) in the SEC.
McGarity’s deal, meanwhile, was much less complicated, but was something that was “awkward” for the second-year athletic director to discuss.
“Well I don’t like talking about that,” he said. “It’s awkward for me. I’ve always said it’s an honor and privilege to be here.”
President Michael Adams initiated the new deal last week, when presidents, athletic directors and coaches from each SEC institution were in Destin, Fla., for annual meetings.
The extension raises McGarity’s annual salary to $500,000, effective July 1, 2012. He will receive another raise, an increase to $550,000 on July 1, 2013.
McGarity's contract ties him to Georgia through December 2017.
“One always has concerns how any new hire might turn out,” Adams said. “But two years into our relationship with Greg McGarity, he has proven to be not only competent but extraordinary.”
Adding to the news of the day, McGarity announced that terms of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s contract would be released Friday.
“The terms are very simple,” he said, without going into detail.
As for Richt, there wasn’t time to immediately celebrate the good news. Georgia hosted the first of a two-day camp Thursday. And was also holding a team meeting Thursday night.
But plans to eat with basketball coach Mark Fox to commemorate the new deal have already been made.
“He probably said something along the lines of, ‘When you sign your contract you owe me a dinner,’” Richt said. “He’s the one that wanted the Waffle House. I’m OK with that.”