Chip Kelly has UCLA ranked in the top 20 and in striking distance of a Pac-12 title berth. Here’s what’s on the line for him, per the terms of his contract.
UCLA and USC have made more headlines off the field than on it in these past few months with their shocking decision to move to the Big Ten. However, the two programs will meet on the gridiron this weekend in a game with massive Pac-12 title — and dare we say College Football Playoff — implications.
A USC win and the Trojans are knocking on the CFP door. A UCLA win and the Bruins are a step closer to a conference championship game appearance.
And, of course, it’s the battle for the Victory Bell, which goes to the winner of this annual rivalry showdown.
That’s plenty of intrigue for the fans. But for UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, this would be another win to help validate the four-year extension he signed earlier this year to stay in Westwood. After a rough first three years at the helm, Kelly’s Bruins broke out in 2021, going 8-4 and finishing second in the Pac-12 South. Now, UCLA is 8-2.
If The Bruins keep winning, perhaps another extension and pay raise will be in order.
With that in mind, Boardroom examines UCLA’s Chip Kelly salary and contract details.
Chip Kelly Salary & Contract Overview at UCLA
Signed: Jan. 14, 2022
Term: Through 2025 season
Base Salary: $300,000
Chip Kelly’s Talent Fee
- 2022: $4,300,000
- 2023: $4,500,000
- 2024: $4,500,000
- 2025: $4,500,000
Kelly also has an annual retention bonus of $1,000,000; all he has to do to qualify for it is continue to be employed at UCLA, so it’s safe to lump that in when calculating the total value of the contract before any performance incentives. If you combine salary, talent fee, and retention bonuses, that brings the value of his four-year extension to $23,000,000, good for an average of $5,750,000 per year.
That’s about on par with what Kelly was making before the extension, which he signed with just a year remaining on his former deal. That indicates the UCLA administration was in more of a wait-and-see mode about their head football coach rather than all-in on keeping Kelly around for years to come. It’s nearly impossible for a coach to recruit if he has an expiring contract, as high school players usually want to know who their coach will be for the next four years. This allows Kelly to keep the program moving while continuing to build on their progress in 2021.
On Kelly’s side, there’s the added benefit of job security. The buyout in his former contract was about to drop to zero. Now, at least, if UCLA were to cut ties with him, he’d walk away with some sort of payday. More on that in a bit.
This season, Kelly will make $5,600,000 assuming his retention bonus hits. For context, here’s how that compares to other college football coaches whose contracts Boardroom has analyzed so far this season:
- Nick Saban: $10,700,000
- Kirby Smart: $10,250,000
- Brian Kelly: $9,500,000
- Mel Tucker: $9,500,000
- Jimbo Fisher: $9,000,000
- Jim Harbaugh: $7,050,000
- Kirk Ferentz: $7,000,000
- Chip Kelly: $5,600,000
- Bryan Harsin*: $5,100,000
- Karl Dorrell*: $3,600,000
- Mike Norvell: $3,250,000
*coach has since been fired
Chip Kelly Buyout Details
If UCLA fires Kelly without cause at any point between now and Dec. 15, 2023, it will owe him 70% of what remains on his contract in base salary, his talent fee, and retention bonuses he would have otherwise received. That means if (for whatever reason) the Bruins decided to move on after this season, they would owe him 70% of the $17,400,000 remaining on this deal, which comes out to $12,180,000. Those payments would be made in monthly installments over the course of one year.
If UCLA fires Kelly after Dec. 15, 2023 and up until his contract expires, the university would owe no buyout whatsoever. If UCLA keeps winning, don’t be surprised if there’s another extension around that time.
Kelly has the opportunity to earn a slew of bonuses, provided his team performs well on the field and in the classroom. There are, however, two conditions: UCLA must not be on probation in a given contract year and the team must have an Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 930 or higher (which is necessary for postseason qualification).
If he and his team meet those requirements, here’s what UCLA is offering him:
Regular Season Wins
- Team win No. 6: $10,000
- Team win No. 7: $10,000
- Team win No. 8: $10,000
- Team win No. 9: $25,000
- Team win No. 10: $25,000
- Team win No. 11: $50,000
- Team win No. 12: $50,000
Kelly’s contract refers to conference championship game appearances, not the Pac-12 specifically. This is important with UCLA’s impending move to the Big Ten. So, Kelly will receive $50,000 if UCLA makes the Pac-12 or Big Ten championship game and an additional $50,000 if the Bruins win it.
Kelly’s bonuses for bowl games can be broken into three buckets. He will receive:
- $40,000 for taking the Bruins to a non-New Year’s 6 or College Football Playoff bowl game OR…
- $100,000 for a New Year’s 6 Bowl appearance and another $100,000 for a win in that game OR…
- $100,000 for reaching the College Football Playoff AND $150,000 for reaching the title game AND $200,000 for winning the National Championship
Kelly will receive $25,000 if UCLA is ranked in the top 10 (or tied for a top-10 spot) in the final AP Poll of the season and an additional $25,000 if the Bruins are in the top 5 (or tied for a top-5 spot).
Kelly will receive $50,000 if he is voted Pac-12 Coach of the Year and $100,000 if he is named National Coach of the Year.
Kelly will earn the following cumulative amounts if UCLA’s players graduate and satisfy the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate requirements:
- Graduation Success rate over 70%: $45,000
- APR over 930: $25,000
- APR over 940: $10,000
- APR over 950: $10,000
- APR over 960: $10,000
- APR over 970: $15,000
- APR over 980: $15,000
- APR over 990: $25,000
Add it all together, and in a given season, Kelly can earn up to $1,085,000 in bonuses.
He won’t hit that total this year, but he can still earn a ton. UCLA already has eight wins, so he’s locked up a minimum of $30,000 under the Regular Season Wins category. With two games left, that can increase by another $50,000.
The Bruins are also still in the running for a Pac-12 championship appearance, leaving him open for another $100,000. UCLA was No. 16 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, so a CFP appearance isn’t likely. A New Year’s 6 Bowl, however, is entirely reasonable, giving Kelly the possibility for another $200,000. UCLA also has a chance to sneak into the Top 10 and, with a strong finish, earn Kelly the Pac-12 Coach of the Year Award — Those two milestones would net him $75,000 more.
We won’t know UCLA’s APR for this season for quite some time, but in other bonuses alone, he can still make an additional $465,000 if things break the right way.
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