Air Force has made Troy Calhoun the highest-paid athletic department employee in academy history, agreeing to a new five-year contract with the football coach that will pay him $725,000 annually.
As part of the deal, which was announced Wednesday, Calhoun will receive a benefits package worth approximately $110,000 per year that brings the contract’s total value to $4.175 million.
The new contract represents a significant raise – especially by academy standards – as Calhoun made a base salary of $560,000 in 2008. And athletic director Hans Mueh hopes it will help keep his hot commodity at the academy. Calhoun, who has led the Falcons to a 17-9 record and two bowl games in his two seasons, was a candidate for the jobs at Clemson and Tennessee in late December and was linked to several other openings.
“It seems like sizeable bump in salary, and it probably is,” Mueh said. “But I’ll be honest with you, when we hired Troy, I think we got him for a steal. … I think this contract says to Troy Calhoun, ‘We’re interested in keeping you for the long haul.’”
Mueh said Calhoun’s salary now ranks fourth in the Mountain West Conference, behind Gary Patterson at TCU, Kyle Whittingham at Utah and Bronco Mendenhall at BYU. Air Force finished fourth in the MWC in 2008 behind those three teams.
The percentage figures in Calhoun’s incentive package are the same as in his previous contract – though the payouts will be larger because of his increased base salary. Among the incentives are a 2.5-percent bonus for earning Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year honors, a 5-percent bonus for winning or retaining the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, a 7.5-percent bonus for winning the MWC, a 10-percent bonus for a non-BCS bowl invitation and a 20 percent bonus for a BCS bowl invitation. Incentives could earn him as much as $217,500.
Like his previous contract, this one is structured as a “rolling” deal, meaning it will be reviewed annually and another year will be added automatically each Dec. 31. Ostensibly, this is the academy’s way of giving Calhoun a long-term deal, because it is not permitted to give contracts of more than five years.
“The government rules for contracting don’t allow me to give him more than five years at a time,” Mueh said. “I’d love to, and coach actually would like that. … But the best we can do is to have in his contract that as of Dec. 31 every year, we will roll this contract over another year. And barring any catastrophic event, I don’t see that changing. My hope is that he would be the next Fisher DeBerry and stay for 25 years here.”
While the contract will be discussed at the end of each year, Mueh does not have to re-negotiate it.
“We can talk about it, but I’m hoping Troy is satisfied with this package and its benefits and that we can keep this running for about five years, because I am sensitive to the economy,” Mueh said.
If Calhoun leaves before the end of his contract, he or the school/team for which he leaves would have to pay 25 percent of his remaining total base salary. In other words, if he leaves after the 2009 season but before the contract rolls over and adds a fifth year, he’d still have four years and $2.9 million remaining on his deal. Thus, the buyout would be $725,000. If he leaves after the contract rolls over, the buyout figure would be $906,250. Mueh hopes that acts as a deterrent.
Calhoun’s assistants also got raises. The pool of money for his nine contract assistants was increased from $885,000 to $1.17 million annually. How that money will be dispersed has not yet been released, but Mueh said each of Air Force’s top seven assistants will be the highest paid in the Mountain West Conference for their position.
Calhoun released a statement that read, in part: “The academy’s purpose – to educate and develop young people of integrity and fortitude who serve as outstanding leaders for our country – is both unique and quite moving. With regards to Air Force football, for over 50 years there have been many exciting moments, and we look forward to many more in the coming years.”
Other notes from Mueh’s Wednesday press conference in which he discussed the contract:
-Mueh was asked if it’s frustrating that Calhoun likely will continue to be pursued by other schools in the coming years. Here’s how he responded:
“That’s just the way it is. If you look around at the very high-profile coaches and the very high-profile conferences, that’s just the way business is done. … If he’s successful and continues to be successful, I think I’m going to face that every year. And I’ll have to address that every year and hope that I can make this place attractive to him maybe with some intangibles as opposed to keep raiding my pocket book.”
According to Mueh, Calhoun’s three biggest desires in negotiations were helping his assistants, continuing to look at future schedules and making sure that Charlton Warren, the Falcons’ cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator, would be hired on as a contract coach when he exits the Air Force.
“We’ve taken care of all of those, sort of,” Mueh said. “The scheduling thing is still a work in progress.”
-Mueh said he hoped ground could be broken for the proposed indoor facility that Calhoun has championed within the year. “Spring is a little bit optimistic, but I still have my fingers crossed that we might be able to pull this off by summer because it is privately funded, and that gives us a little extra flexibility.”