Tucker contract

New CU head football coach has agreed to a five-year contract worth $14.75 million, plus incentives. Here is his annual base salary:

2019: $2,400,000

2020: $2,675,000

2021: $2,950,000

2022: $3,225,000

2023: $3,500,000

A few of the incentives in Tucker's contract:

• Three separate $100,000 annual bonuses tied to academics, student-athlete welfare and football program outreach.

• $50,000 for six wins in 2019, with $25,000 for each additional win

• $50,000 for seven wins in 2020-23, with $25,000 for each additional win

• $100,000 for reaching a non-New Year's Day bowl game

• $175,000 for invitation to a New Year's Six bowl

• $450,000 for invitation to the College Football Playoff

• $750,000 for winning the national championship

• $25,000 for winning the Pac-12 South division

• $50,000 for winning the Pac-12 Championship

• $50,000 for being selected Pac-12 coach of the year

• $100,000 for being selected national coach of the year

The University of Colorado Board of Regents approved the contract of new head football coach Mel Tucker on Wednesday, but not before two regents used their platform to express their disapproval over the system of college athletics and the safety of the game.


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Tucker's contract, which runs through Dec. 31, 2023, is set to pay him $14.75 million in base and supplemental salary over the next five seasons. There are also several incentives written into the deal, including three separate annual $100,000 bonuses tied to academics, student-athlete welfare and football program outreach. Those three bonuses were met every year by previous head coach Mike MacIntyre.

With Wednesday's approval by the regents, Tucker is now officially the 26th full-time head coach in CU history.

The board voted 6-2, with vice chair Jack Kroll and Linda Shoemaker both voting against the contract. Irene Griego abstained from voting.

Both of Tucker's predecessors, Jon Embree and MacIntyre, had their original contracts unanimously approved.

Griego began discussion by asking athletic director Rick George and chancellor Phil DiStefano to elaborate on a portion of Tucker's contract that requires "administering the football program in a manner that places an emphasis on player safety and does not expose players to undue or unnecessary risk."

George responded by saying, "The health and safety of our student-athletes in all sports is paramount. We've had that discussion with coach Tucker and our expectations of all of our head coaches and personnel is that we provide the very best in health and wellness and I believe we do that."

DiStefano added that the Pac-12 and CU have been leaders around the country in student-athlete health and wellness.

Nevertheless, Shoemaker voted against the contract because of what she views as a lack of safety in the game.

"This is not a vote against Mel Tucker," Shoemaker said. "I wish him well. I hope he'll be spectacularly successful here and I also hope he and his family are genuinely happy living in Colorado. However, I need to vote against the contract because coaching contracts are about the only opportunity the regents have to weigh in on the football program, which is a campus-level responsibility."

A critic of the football program in the past, Shoemaker said, "I see too much emphasis on winning and too little on safety."

She then pointed out Tucker's comments from his introductory press conference on Thursday, when he said, "Our team, we will be physical. My dad always told me the name of the game of football is hit. H.I.T. Hit. There's always a place on the football field for someone who will hit."

In response to those comments, Shoemaker said, "All this talk about toughness, physicality and hitting makes me personally nervous. Why? Because I'm a mother and a grandmother, and I've studied some of these issues. Hard hits are the things that reliably lead to head trauma."

Shoemaker added: "I believe collegiate head coaches are paid far too much money. In an ideal world, some of that money would be used to pay the players and provide long-term health care, both mental and physical health care, for them."

Kroll also mentioned the danger of the game, but mainly spoke about the financial model of college athletics. He stated that the university has had to subsidize the athletic department "to the tune of $10 million or more per year each of the last five fiscal cycles."

"While the (athletic) department likes to espouse the idea this money won't come from student fees or taxpayer money, that's just wrong," Kroll said.

According to a university spokesman, CU athletics received a total of $10.1 million from the Boulder campus, the president's office and student fees during the 2018 fiscal year. Of that, $4.3 million came from the campus' general operating fund, which comes from a variety of sources, including some state dollars. However, state dollars make up only five percent of the university's entire $1.8 billion budget.

Students pay an athletic fee of $28.50 per semester, a fee that has not been raised in more than two decades.

CU athletics also gave $17.65 million back to the university to pay for student aid, benefits, insurance, etc.

Citing the $10 million subsidy, Kroll said, "What more could the university do with that money? ... The answer is that for every dollar we subsidize coaches making six- and seven-figure annual salaries, we burden more students with loan debt or even worse, no education at all. For every dollar we subsidize coaches' salaries, we push the cure for cancer and other life-threatening illness that much further away."

Kroll pointed out that he is a sports fan — even stating that he is a part of fantasy football and baseball leagues — and said there is "nothing more exciting than watching Ralphie charge down the sidelines," but ultimately said he can't support Tucker's contract because, "I want to see this university lead the way in developing a new model for college athletics."

Regent chair Sue Sharkey acknowledged that Shoemaker and Kroll have valid discussion points, but told BuffZone.com she did not believe this was the right forum.

"The purpose for the meeting today was to vote on a contract for the football coach," Sharkey said. "I don't agree that we should use that as an opportunity to posture our personal options on athletics or the football program. Our purpose there today was to vote on a contract. I would have preferred that these conversations would have taken place in the appropriate committee. That's why we have committees, to have opportunities to have presentations and be well-informed on issues."

Ultimately, the regents did get around to voting on Tucker's contract, with the majority of the regents ready to officially welcome the new head coach.

"I'm very pleased," Sharkey said. "My expectations were high because of Rick George. I was confident Rick George was going to bring us in a top talent in our new head coach. What we have in Mel Tucker exceeded even my high expectations."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33