On Nov. 13, 2013, Seattle Times reporter Lewis Kamb interviewed UW Athletic Director Scott Woodward for this story about the salary, bonuses and perks the university paid to its head football coach Steve Sarkisian. With reports today that Sarkisian is leaving the UW for USC, here’s a partial transcript of the interview as it delved into rumors about Sarkisian leaving Washington:
The Seattle Times: Coach Sarkisian is rumored to be a potential candidate for the USC head coach’s job. I know he has publicly addressed that, but really hasn’t slammed the door on the potential opportunity there. As AD, how do you address or protect yourself in a situation like this?
WOODWARD: You’re never protected. It’s performance, it’s ability. It’s market. You don’t want to be in the unenviable position of having a coach no one wants. You want someone who is really respected in the marketplace. But for that, you have to pay market.
ST: There are obviously some disincentives for him to break the contract.
WOODWARD: There are. There are.
ST: But besides the (monetary) penalties, I see there’s a clause in there (Sarkisian’s contract) that says that the coach is supposed to have a dialogue with you if he’s interested in another job. And that hasn’t happened?
ST: I’m curious, because obviously these kinds of discussions are going on all the time. How does that happen?
WOODWARD: It happens a million different ways. They don’t have to talk to me. Especially the NFL. He’s been rumored to be a candidate or on the radar for a few NFL jobs and I believe it. I’m sure they talk to either his representation or whoever, however they do it. So, I would never know. It’s one of those things. You just have to be dialed into the industry, and know what’s going on out there.
ST: And what do you hear in this situation?
WOODWARD: You just don’t know. I mean, if and when it happens, hopefully I’m ready for it.
ST: And hopefully it doesn’t happen?
WOODWARD: I would like to retain him, exactly. I’m very happy with Steve as the coach.
ST: He’s won something like 32 games over the 5 years he’s been here. Are you satisfied with that performance?
WOODWARD: You’re never satisfied until you win championships, that’s the ultimate goal. As far as where the program was when he started – 0 and 12 – to what he’s built it to, and how he’s done it in a classy, high performing way, is impressive. But hey, we’re about winning championships here and we expect to get there and get to that next level. But I’m very pleased with the incremental progress this program’s made.