Ohio State adjusts Urban Meyer’s bonus due to NCAA sanctions
- Ohio State was hit with a postseason ban after Urban Meyer was hired
- The Buckeyes won the Leaders Division, but are ineligible for the Big Ten title game
- The school is working with Meyer on details of his bonus
When is an incentive bonus not an incentive bonus that becomes an incentive bonus again?
When Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s representatives and university officials work out a way to fix a contract provision that rescued a potential bonus that was headed toward a dead end even as the Buckeyes built an 11-0 record heading into their season finale Saturday at home against Michigan.
It was a dead end that potentially would have cost Meyer $150,000 or $250,000 – a significant amount of money, even for a coach whose base annual compensation is $4 million.
Meyer’s contract includes the prospect of:
— A $50,000 bonus if the team wins the Big Ten Conference’s Leaders Division.
— An automatic one-year extension onto his current contract and a $100,000 bonus if the Buckeyes win the conference championship game.
— $150,000 for playing in a Bowl Championship Series non-title game or $250,000 for playing in the BCS title game.
Because Meyer was hired in November 2011 as Ohio State faced NCAA sanctions that include a ban on postseason play this year, his contract includes specific language addressing the bonuses for this season or any other season in which Ohio State is ineligible for its division championship or the postseason because of rules violations that occurred before Meyer’s arrival.
Regarding the $50,000 division bonus, the contract says Meyer will be paid if “Ohio State has the most wins in the Leaders Division at the conclusion of the last regular season game.” This goal has been achieved, as the Buckeyes have clinched the division’s top record.
There was no work-around for the Big Ten title game.
Regarding the $150,000 BCS bonus, however, it would be paid only “if Ohio State is ranked in the top #3 – #10 in the BCS final rankings”. And the $250,000 bonus would be paid instead “if Ohio State is ranked in the top 2 in the BCS final ranking.”
That created a problem.
A major component of the BCS rankings is the USA TODAY Coaches’ Poll, but teams under NCAA sanctions are ineligible to receive votes in the poll. Initially, Ohio State Senior Associate Athletics Director Julie Vannatta said in an e-mail that Ohio State’s position was “what’s in the written contract is correct.”
In other words – no BCS ranking, no bonus.
Last Friday, however, Vannatta said in an e-mail and an interview that Ohio State officials had discussed the matter with Meyer’s representatives and the parties have agreed that the contract will be amended to make Ohio State’s standing in the final Associated Press media poll the determinant of the BCS bonus. Teams on probation are eligible for votes in the AP poll.
Meyer is represented by CAA Sports, which, through spokeswoman Beth McClinton, has declined to comment at any point in the process.
“We both agree that this change is necessary in order to achieve the original intended purpose of the employment agreement between Ohio State and Coach Meyer,” Vannatta said in an e-mail.
With the Buckeyes moving up to No. 4 in this week’s AP poll, a victory Saturday over their archrivals will virtually assure a top-10 finish. Given the way the season has been going recently for highly ranked teams, they could end up in the top two.
And Meyer could end up with the bonus that almost was not.
PLEASE NOTE: This article was selected for educational purposes.