MINNEAPOLIS - The $2.5 million buyout of Tubby Smith's contract is the largest in a series of payments to University of Minnesota coaches as they were shown the door.
Smith's predecessor, Dan Monson, left with more than a million dollars in severance payments. Former football coach Tim Brewster was paid a buyout of $600,000.
U of M athletic director Norwood Teague says he's not fan of buyouts. "Anytime you spend money for buyouts it bothers me as well just as it would bother citizens of Minnesota," he said at the press conference announcing Smith's departure, "but I hope our fans would look at this one as an investment rather than an expenditure."
Division one collage sports is big business. The budget for the U of M's athletic department is nearly $80 million a year. Basketball generates annual revenue of more than $16 million.
Teague indicated the university's new basketball coach will probably have a buyout provision in his contract too. "When you hire a coach, and you want to hire a very good coach, you have to put buyouts in there otherwise you've got a major hand behind your back."
Rayla Allison, director of the U of M's Sports Business Institute, says Teague has it right. "It has become sort of standard operating procedure in major division 1A college sports," she said.
Allison, an attorney, has negotiated contracts on behalf of several coaches around the country. "Then I'm pushing to get that buyout in there," she said.
Teague says he wouldn't have pursued the buyout if funds could not be found to pay for it. He suggested that he may have to do fundraising to pay for at least part of it. "I don't really like to raise money for something like this, but this will be out of athletic department funds."
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