Coach Prime says he wasn’t chasing the bag, but he’ll be getting one as head football coach for the Colorado Buffaloes.
In the span of a few days, the Colorado Buffaloes football program went from a 1-11 afterthought to the talk of college football. That’s just what happens when you name Deion Sanders your head coach.
In true Coach Prime fashion, he made an immediate statement, stirring some controversy and rallying the Buffs’ fanbase in his introductory presser.
Sanders seems all-in on righting the ship in Boulder, but he will have his work cut out for him. The program has finished with a winning record just once since 2006 and has cycled through five head coaches in that span. Colorado also competes in a Pac-12 Conference that’s in transition, on the verge of losing conference powers USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.
But Coach Prime has shown that he can change a program overnight, and Colorado is paying him handsomely to do so. Sanders has yet to sign a formal contract with the university, but he has received an offer letter that outlines some of what he can expect to earn as Colorado head coach. Boardroom has obtained the offer letter, and in addition to what other outlets have reported, we can get an idea of what sort of commitment the Buffs have made to Coach Prime.
Let’s dive in.
Deion Sanders Salary Breakdown
Term: 5 years
Base Salary: $500,000
Public Relations Compensation: $1,750,000 (with a $100,000 annual raise)
Promotions and Fundraising Compensation: $1,750,000 (with a $100,000 annual raise)
Player Development Compensation: $1,500,000
Total Annual Pay without bonuses: $5,500,000 (with a $200,000 annual raise)
Over the course of five years, that makes Sanders’ entire deal worth $29.5 million before bonuses with an average annual salary of $5.9 million. The above structure seems fairly consistent with other coach contracts that Boardroom has highlighted so far — a base pay of less than $1 million, with the bulk of the money coming from supplemental compensation. If you want to get really granular about what his pay is for, that player development money can be broken into three categories, which Sanders will receive $500,000 a piece for: student-athlete academic culture, student-athlete welfare and development, and outreach and culture. His exact role in each category was not outlined in the offer letter.
If you’re curious how Sanders’ compensation for next season compares to what his peers received this season, here is where he stacks up with other coaches we’ve highlighted, including Karl Dorrell, the man he replaced:
- Nick Saban: $10,700,000
- Kirby Smart: $10,250,000
- Brian Kelly: $9,500,000
- Mel Tucker: $9,500,000
- Ryan Day: $9,500,000
- Jimbo Fisher: $9,000,000
- Jim Harbaugh: $7,050,000
- Kirk Ferentz: $7,000,000
- Chip Kelly: $5,600,000
- Deion Sanders: $5,500,000
- Bryan Harsin*: $5,100,000
- Mack Brown: $5,000,000
- Karl Dorrell*: $3,600,000
- Mike Norvell: $3,250,000
*coach has since been fired
Deion Sanders Buyout at Colorado
As with most contracts, both sides are assured of some damages should the other party choose to terminate the contract before it expires. In the event that Sanders decides to leave Colorado, he would owe the university a buyout on the following schedule, per the Denver Post:
- After 2023 season: $15 million
- After 2024: $10 million
- After 2025: $8 million
- After 2026: $5 million
There’s also the possibility that Sanders just doesn’t get the job done in Boulder and Colorado decides to fire him. If that happens, as long as it’s without cause, Sanders would be entitled to 75% of what remains on his contract in base and supplemental pay.
So, say that happens after year three. He would have $12.4 million left on his contract, meaning Colorado would owe him 75% of that, or $9.3 million.
Coach Prime’s Potential Bonuses
It’s going to be a tough road back to respectability for the Buffaloes, but if Sanders can pull it off, there are some lucrative bonuses that await.
The Denver Post reports the following bonuses will be in Sanders’ contract (and there may be more that have not been agreed to yet):
- $50,000 for a team APR of 954 in Year 1 or 965 any year after that
- $75,000 for winning Pac-12 Coach of the Year and $150,000 for National Coach of the Year
- $75,000 for reaching the Pac-12 Championship Game and $150,000 for winning it
- $150,000 for a non-New Year’s 6 Bowl Game
- $150,000 for six wins in a season with an additional $100,000 for every win after that
- $450,000 for an invite to a New Year’s 6 Bowl Game
- $750,000 for winning the National Championship
In addition to his pay and bonus structure, Sanders is entitled to the following, per his offer letter:
- $20,000 in moving expenses
- 10 season tickets for all home football games
- 4 season tickets to all men’s and women’s home basketball games
- Complimentary country club membership
- University-provided (or paid for) automobile
Again, the final contract may outline more than that, but so far, not bad for Coach Prime!
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