Arizona State has fired its head football coach. So, how big of a Herm Edwards buyout will the Sun Devils have to pay for him not to show up for work?
The college football coaching carousel has claimed its second prominent victim of the 2022 season. Following a 30-21 loss to Eastern Michigan, the Arizona State Sun Devils fired head coach Herm Edwards on Sunday.
Running backs coach Shaun Aguano will coach the team the rest of the season and, according to athletic director Ray Anderson, will have a chance to earn consideration for the full-time gig depending on how the rest of the season goes.
But unlike many coach firings, it’s not clear exactly how much — if anything — Arizona State will pay Edwards as part of a contract buyout. The reason here is simple: Arizona State has not yet said whether this was or was not a termination with cause.
The football program is currently under NCAA investigation, and depending on the status of that, the university may be able to get out of paying anything. But make no mistake: If the Sun Devils were 3-0 instead of 1-2, the former Jets and Chiefs head coach would still be in charge out in Tempe.
Here’s what we know so far about the Herm Edwards buyout under the terms of his contract at ASU.
Herm Edwards Buyout & Contract Details
Anderson made it clear in a press conference on Sunday that Edwards did not resign, nor was he actually dismissed. It was, rather, the famous mutual parting of the ways between the two sides.
Assuming the ongoing investigation does not factor in here, Arizona State is on the hook for every dollar it agreed to pay Edwards under his contract, both in base salary and additional pay. In 2022, he was due to make $3.9 million ($700,000 base pay + $3.2 million additional), so the Sun Devils would have to pay what Edwards is due for the remainder of the year. Further, his contract outlines that he would be paid bi-weekly in accordance with Arizona State’s normal payroll structure — with eight pay periods left in 2022 and doing some quick math, one could assume he’s due another $1.2 million.
In addition, Edwards was due to make $4.1 million in 2023 and $4.3 million in 2024.
Adding it all together, Arizona State could be on the hook for around $9.6 million.
The Arizona State NCAA Investigation
As with all NCAA investigations, there’s not so much information out there regarding actual details of what the organization is looking at in Tempe; this is because university officials are not permitted to discuss ongoing inquiries (and besides, the NCAA itself has a reputation for moving remarkably slowly). We do, however, know a few things:
- In May 2021, the NCAA received a dossier outlining recruiting violations allegedly occurring within Arizona State’s football program
- The NCAA officially launched an investigation that June
- Allegations included Arizona State ignoring so-called “dead periods” in recruiting and having high school athletes on campus for visits during that time
- Five coaches have left the staff amid the investigation, not including Edwards
- The NCAA has not yet sent Arizona State a formal notice of allegations (NOA)
That process is going to take a while. Once the NCAA officially serves an NOA (if that even happens), ASU will then have 90 days to respond. At that point, the NCAA gets 60 days to respond to that.
What Does it Mean to Be ‘Fired for Cause’?
If the NCAA finds rule violations — or if Arizona State determines that violations occurred and self-reports — then then it’s probable that the university has grounds to have fired Edwards for cause.
Edwards’ contract outlines 13 possible reasons for such termination; the relevant ones here would be dishonesty, NCAA violations by coach, NCAA violations by others, or failure to report NCAA violations. If the NCAA does find Edwards or his staff committed violations, the ousted coach’s contract states that he could owe Arizona State up to $75,000.