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Over the past 11 calendar years, West Virginia University has reportedly paid out $3 million in “dead money” to coaches who are no longer working at the school. While that may sound like a lot (and from one viewpoint, it is), the Mountaineers have actually done well in avoiding big payouts to coaches who have been fired with time remaining on their contracts, or dismissed for any other reasons that allowed them to receive compensation.
According to data compiled by ESPN (and let’s give the four-letter behemoth credit for using its massive resources on this project), WVU is 47th out of the 86 public FBS universities in the amount of dead money paid to football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball coaches from 2010 through the first month of 2021.
Those totals, which include money paid to head coaches, assistant coaches and strength and conditioning staff members who are no longer at the respective in those three sports, were collected for 86 schools.
Private schools (22 in the FBS ranks) are not required to respond to open records requests, and the rest either ignored the request or provide no or incomplete information.
ESPN reports that the total amount of dead money paid out by all FBS schools over the period is $533.6 million, and does not include any money owed or paid since Jan. 31 of this year. There have been numerous high-profile dismissals during that time, which are expected to substantially increase the reported figure.
WVU’s payouts, running from Jan. 1, 2010, to Jan. 31, 2021, were all within the football program. They included $1.7 million to Bill Stewart, who was pushed out in the abysmal hiring process of Dana Holgorsen, $788,000 to assistant coach Tony Gibson, $321,000 to assistant coach Vic Koenning, who reached a separation agreement after being accused of making insensitive comments, and $283,000 to assistant Joe Wickline, whose last season at West Virginia came in 2018.
Koenning is still on WVU’s payroll, and will receive bi-weekly payments of $9,672.46 from Feb. 21, 2021 through Feb. 28, 2022. That is a total of $251,483.96 for which WVU is still on the hook.
West Virginia did not make any payments to any coaches or strength professionals from its men’s or women’s basketball programs over the 11-year period.
Next to Auburn ($31.2 million) or Nebraska ($25.8), West Virginia’s total looks smallish, but it is still significant for a school that is now facing a $20 million deficit in its athletics budget due to COVID. Countering that, though, is the fact that of eight Big 12 schools reporting (TCU and Baylor did not), West Virginia is sixth in payouts, with only Texas Tech ($841,000) and Kansas State ($806,000) coming in lower. The Red Raiders will undoubtedly rise above WVU when they begin paying recently-fired football coach Matt Wells’ buyout.
West Virginia was tied for seventh in terms of the number of coaches being paid dead money over the period. Iowa State (one) and Texas Tech (four, who again that will change) were at the bottom of the lists, eclipsed by Kansas (42) Texas (21) and Oklahoma (12). Mississippi, making payments to a mind-boggling 51 individuals over the period, leads the national count.
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Dear Savvy Senior,
Dear Savvy Senior,