Conversing over contracts

Feb 222005
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

Keeping stability in a university athletics system has proved to be important in building a successful program.

One way to keep stability is to guarantee a long-term contract with a head coach, and CSU has made sure to make that possible with several coaches.

CSU can only have six long-term contracts within the university, said Director of Athletics Mark Driscoll. Five of the contracts are within the athletics department and the sixth belongs to President Larry Penley.

Contracts can vary, but the contracts of both CSU basketball coaches offer a look at what is usually set forth in a long-term contract. The Collegian reviewed the contracts and discussed them with Driscoll.


There are several differences between the contracts for women's basketball coach Chris Denker and men's basketball coach Dale Layer. One of these differences is a review date scheduled into Layer's contract to be completed during this year. Denker's contract does not have a similar provision.

"(The review) is reviewing (Layer's) performance; that's part of the whole evaluation process," Driscoll said. "All university staff undergoes a review. The difference is it's written into (Layer's) contract."

There are several areas that the performance review takes into account, including coaching, players' academics, recruiting, personnel management, budget, public relations and relationships with the players, alumni and fans.

"Most of the evaluation is done after the season," Driscoll said. "Just

talking with the coaches in the review process. (Talking with the players) is part of the player relations. We may not specifically talk with the students, but we want to know how they're doing."

Part of what the review looks for with the players is if they are making progress toward their degrees, Driscoll said.


Another difference between the two coaches' contracts is the amount of money they make. Layer makes $185,000 a year and at least $40,000 for promotional contracts, such as any television or radio deals or personal appearances he makes during a season. If Layer makes less than $40,000 on a promotional contract, CSU is required to supplement the amount up to the $40,000 limit.

Denker has a base salary of $115,000 and makes $15,000 on promotional contracts.

Both coaches are also rewarded if they guide their teams to either the National Invitation Tournament or the NCAA Tournament.

The women's basketball team has competed in the women's NIT the last two years and went to the NCAA Tournament in 2002, Denker's first year. The men's team made a first-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2003.

The amount of money the coach makes is based on market value, Driscoll said.

"The university has to factor in the marketplace," Driscoll said. "Then, again, it's down to negotiation and what the market's willing to pay."


Layer signed an extension to his contract in 2003, which expires on June 30, 2008. Denker's contract expires on June 11, 2007. Both contracts were signed before Driscoll's arrival at CSU in August 2003. Former athletic director Jeff Hathaway orchestrated Denker's contract and Layer's first contract with CSU, although Layer's extension was signed by interim athletic director Christine Susemihl.

"(The contract extension) was all finished when (Hathaway) left," Driscoll said. "All the business points had been done by (Hathaway). There're lots of eyes looking at (the contracts), as it should be."

Five signatures complete the contract, including the coach, the director of athletics, the CSU president, the controller of the Board of Governors of the CSU System and the university's attorney general.

Either side could terminate the contract, but Driscoll said that both contracts will most likely continue as planned.

CSU could terminate or suspend a contract based on cause for incidents such as being convicted of a crime, failing to comply with any of the duties described in the contract, or for engaging in conduct inconsistent with university moral and ethical standards, such as an unprofessional relationship with any employee or player at CSU. If there is no cause found, CSU is required to pay

the remaining amount of the base salary guaranteed by the contract. If there is cause found, CSU would only be required to pay the base salary and benefits owed at the date of termination.

"Some contracts have a payout option," Driscoll said. "Most of the time these things are settled."

If, on the other hand, the coach were to resign or go to another university, the coach might be required to offer CSU compensation.

In Denker's contract, there is a plan specifically to face this issue and leave no questions about what would be owed. If Denker had left during his first year of the contract, he would have owed $100,000 to CSU. Every year since then, the amount he would owe – should he terminate the contract – would decrease by $25,000. Prior to Denker's arrival at CSU, head coach Tom Collen left CSU for a position at Vanderbilt.

Layer's contract states that should he voluntarily leave the position, he would be entitled to receive the salary owed at the time of termination, but no additional payments.

"(Contracts are) probably as varied as there are people," Driscoll said. "They are written to protect all the parties. (They are written) so there's no misunderstanding, hopefully. (CSU's contracts) are, I think, pretty standard."

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