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Regents approve contract for CU Buffs head coach Karl Dorrell

Five-year, $18M contract had a 7-2 vote in favor

BOULDER, CO - FEBRUARY 24, 2020:Karl Dorrell is introduced by CU AD, Rick George.   New CU football coach, Karl Dorrell, is introduce at a press conference in Boulder on February 24, 2020.
(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
BOULDER, CO – FEBRUARY 24, 2020:Karl Dorrell is introduced by CU AD, Rick George. New CU football coach, Karl Dorrell, is introduce at a press conference in Boulder on February 24, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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Karl Dorrell is now officially the new head football coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.

On Monday, the University of Colorado Board of Regents approved the five-year, $18 million contract for Dorrell, who was introduced as head coach on Feb. 24. Dorrell, 56, becomes the highest paid coach in CU history.

The board voted 7-2, with regents Jack Kroll and Linda Shoemaker voting against the contract.

“I just want to thank the board for your support on this,” athletic director Rick George said after the vote. “I think Karl is everything that we need at this point at CU and I’m excited for him to take over our program. We are in the process of completing his staff.”

The results of the voting were not a surprise.

Shoemaker, who has been on the board since 2015, has never voted in favor of a contract involving football coaches. She removed herself from the table when a contract extension for previous head coach Mike MacIntyre came to a vote in June of 2017 and has voted “no” the past four times football contracts have come to the board.

Shoemaker has often spoken out about the dangers of football and said Monday she is voting not against Dorrell, but, “I’m voting no because I continue to see too much risk in America’s most popular sport.”

Shoemaker was complimentary of George for educating her on concerns about health and safety of football players. She also said if there was any coach she could support, it would be Dorrell. He replaces Mel Tucker, who left CU on Feb. 12 for Michigan State.

“He is in sharp contrast to Midnight Mel, whose initial press conference was all about football being a game of hit, hit and more hit,” Shoemaker said. “Instead, coach Dorrell exudes calm confidence, a love for Boulder and genuine concern for our football players.”

Nevertheless, she voted against the contract and closed her comments with, “I wish coach Dorrell a long and successful tenure as our head coach. Go Buffs!”

Kroll, who joined the board in 2017, voted in favor of football contracts the first two times he had a chance, but has voted against the past three.

“I’m not yet in a position where I can support this,” Kroll said before the vote. “I look forward to continuing to address some concerns around player safety, financial sustainability and the impact long-term related to that.”

Regent Lesley Smith voted against assistant football contracts last year, but voted in favor of Dorrell’s contract, which runs through Dec. 31, 2024. He is set to make $3.2 million in base and supplemental salary this season, with annual raises of $200,000. He will be paid $4 million in base/supplemental salary in the final year of the contract.

The contract includes an annual base salary of $500,000. In addition, there is $1.2 million for radio, television and public appearances and $1.2 million for promotion and fund raising – with both of those amounts increasing by $100,000 each year.

Also among Dorrell’s supplemental salary is three separate $100,000 amounts for academics, student-athlete welfare and development and football program outreach. For previous head coaches MacIntyre and Tucker, those areas were listed as incentives, but they are a part of Dorrell’s supplement salary.

Compared to Tucker’s deal, CU has dramatically increased the liquidated damages Dorrell would owe for terminating the contract early.

If Dorrell terminates the contract before Dec. 31 of this year, he would owe CU $10 million. He would owe $7.5 million for terminating the contract before Dec. 31, 2021; $5 million for terminating the contract before Dec. 31, 2022; $4 million for terminating the deal before Dec. 31, 2023; and $3 million for terminating the deal before Dec. 31, 2024.

“I support the contract,” regent John Carson said. “I think upping the penalty for leaving before the contract expires was necessary and a welcomed change.”

In addition, the contract includes a salary pool of $3.8 million for the assistant coaches, an increase from $3.2 million under Tucker.

Dorrell contract

Board of regents approved the contract for CU head football coach Karl Dorrell. Here are some of the contract details.

Base/supplemental salary:

2020 – $3,200,000

2021 – $3,400,000

2022 – $3,600,000

2023 – $3,800,000

2024 – $4,000,000

A few of the incentives in Dorrell’s contract:

  • $50,000 if football team attains APR rating of 965 after each academic year
  • $50,000 if the team wins six games in 2020, and $25,000 for each win after that
  • $50,000 if the team wins seven games in the second through fifth years, and $25,000 for each win after that in those years
  • $100,000 if the team is invited to a non-New Year’s Day bowl game
  • $175,000 if the team is invited to a New Year’s Day Six bowl game
  • $450,000 if the team is invited to a College Football Playoff bowl game
  • $750,000 if the team wins the national championship
  • $25,000 if the team wins the Pac-12 South championship
  • $50,000 if the team wins the Pac-12 championship
  • $50,000 if Dorrell is selected Pac-12 coach of the year
  • $100,000 if Dorrell is selected national coach of the year

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