When new Virginia Tech men’s basketball Coach Buzz Williams left Marquette for less money and a job leading the ACC’s worst team, the question on the minds of many observers was why Williams would make such a move. His new contract with the Hokies, signed on May 11 and obtained by The Washington Post through an open records request, provides some answers.
At Virginia Tech, Williams negotiated an incentive-laden deal that includes several perks outside of his starting annual salary of $2.3 million, most notably a rollover clause, a minimal — and one-sided — buyout provision after three years, the creation of new staff positions and the ability to earn additional compensation from outside sources.
When Virginia Tech first introduced Williams as its coach in March, the school announced he agreed to a seven-year, $18.2 million contract and that his annual salary would increase by $100,000 every season. But like at Marquette, where he earned approximately $2.8 million last year, Williams will also have a rollover clause in his contract with the Hokies.
Beginning in year four, his contract will be automatically extended by one year every June 30 unless the university provides written notice by April 15 that it won’t be extended.
Perhaps more importantly, Williams crafted a buyout structure that will likely lead to increasing speculation if other schools pursue him as a coach in the future. If Williams leaves in the first year of the contract, he owes Virginia Tech $7 million. That figure drops to $3.5 million in year two and $1.5 million in year three. It drops below $1 million — to $900,000 in year four, $500,000 in year five and $250,000 in year six — after that.
If fired without cause by Virginia Tech, Williams would be owed his salary for the remainder of the contract. There is no clause in the contract stipulating Williams be paid the difference in salary should he get another job. So he could potentially earn a full salary from two schools if fired by Virginia Tech, which is unusual in college coaching contracts.
Williams could also earn a significant amount of outside income at Virginia Tech thanks to another creative incentive. The contract stipulates Williams can “incorporate himself into a personal service corporation” and that income derived from camps, endorsements or speaking engagements will be “paid directly” to Williams.
As had been reported earlier, while Williams worked under a term sheet the past three months, Virginia Tech’s assistant coaches and support staff will also earn more money than before. Williams has a salary pool of $725,000 for assistant coaches — up from less than $500,000 under former coaches James Johnson and Seth Greenberg — and another $325,000 to dole out for administrative roles such as director of basketball operations, video coordinator, assistant to the head coach and the creation of new positions.
Other perks of the contract include the usage of two cars furnished by Virginia Tech, membership at Blacksburg Country Club, two seats on the team plane or bus for Williams’s immediate family members and four work-related trips each year in which the school will pay reasonable expenses for Williams, his wife and their four children. Williams also receives 12 tickets for each home men’s basketball game, 24 all-session passes to the ACC tournament, 24 tickets for any NCAA tournament game the Hokies play and 12 tickets for all Virginia Tech home football games.
Williams could also earn bonuses for achievements on the court or in the classroom.
He is due $50,000 if the Hokies win the ACC tournament and $25,000 for being named conference coach of the year or national coach of the year. He will earn another $25,000 bonus after qualifying for the NCAA tournament, and that figure increases by $25,000 if the Hokies advance to the round of 32 ($50,000), the Sweet 16 ($75,000) and the Final Four ($100,000). Should Virginia Tech win the NCAA men’s basketball title under Williams, he would be owed a $150,000 bonus.
His three assistants would earn one month’s salary for earning an NCAA tournament bid, two months’ salary for making Sweet 16 or three months’ salary for advancing to the Final Four. Williams has already hired former Marquette assistant Isaac Chew and former South Florida assistant Steve Roccaforte to be his assistant coaches. The third slot remains unfilled at this time.
Williams will also earn a $15,000 bonus if his team’s grade point average is 2.6 or better. If the team GPA is 2.75 or above, that figure rises to $20,000. A GPA of 3.0 or above would net Williams $25,000. If the men’s basketball team’s academic progress rate is above 960 in any given year, Williams would earn an additional $50,000 bonus.