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December 6, 2013 at 3:36 PM

UW coaching shuffle racks up 4 coaches and more than $1.5 million in buyouts — and counting

Coaches Steve Sarkisian, left, and Chris Petersen meet at midfield after Boise State defeated Washington 28-26 in the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl.

Coaches Steve Sarkisian, left, and Chris Petersen meet at midfield after Boise State defeated Washington 28-26 in the 2012 Las Vegas Bowl.

At latest count, four University of Washington football coaches have bolted Montlake this week for USC, breaching their UW employment contracts in the process.

The chain-reaction of coaching moves has triggered damage clauses in their contracts, racking up more than $1.5 million in buyout penalties so far for the UW, and likely saving the school another $240,000 in other payments.

The penalty amounts now owed to Washington easily cover the reported $750,000 buyout in Chris Petersen’s contract with Boise State University.  The UW officially named Petersen its new head football coach today, but university officials have yet to release details about how much they’ll pay him.

The Times asked the UW on Friday for a copy of the school’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Petersen. UW officials have so far declined to provide the document, saying they would wait to release Petersen’s contract terms at a Monday press conference.

The UW typically prepares such MOUs to lay out the basic terms for a coaching hire until a more detailed and formal contract is executed. Typically a one- to two-page document, it includes such information as guaranteed annual pay, duration of the contract, moving-expense payments and buyout payments to previous schools.

Petersen will replace Steve Sarkisian, the highest-paid coach in Huskies history, who was set to make $2.875 million guaranteed next season.  Additional perks and benefits would have put Sarkisian’s minimum total compensation at more than $3 million for the 2014 season.

For those keeping score at home, here’s the latest rundown on buyouts and other contractual savings due to the UW’s coaching changes:

  • Sarkisian’s announced departure to the University of Southern California on Monday will cost him or his new school $1.5 million — the amount contractually stated for leaving during the third year of his five-year agreement.  Because Sarkisian left to coach at another “NCAA institution,” the contract also requires payment within 30 days.
  • Also leaving the UW to join Sarkisian in L.A. are running-backs coach Johnny Nansen, defensive-backs coach Keith Heyward and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon. Nansen’s buyout comes to $33,750 – 15 percent of his annual guaranteed pay of $225,000.

    Johnny Nansen

    Johnny Nansen

  • Neither Sirmon, who made $250,008 in guaranteed pay this season, nor Heyward, who made $200,008, has a stated buyout clause in his contract.  But because Sirmon didn’t stay for the full two-and-a-half years of his contract, the UW won’t have to pay a $75,000 buyout pledged to Sirmon’s former employer, the University of Tennessee.

    Peter Sirmon

    Peter Sirmon

  • The fate of two other assistants – defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi – remains in limbo.  Reports suggest Sarkisian wants both assistants to join him at USC, but that the school appears to be balking at their steep buyouts. Wilcox’s contract states he’ll owe $1 million if he leaves early to take any coaching job other than a head-coaching gig. If Lupoi leaves for any job other than as a head coach or defensive coordinator at any other Pac 12 school, he’ll owe $408,338 – the calculated amount of guaranteed pay pledged to him for the 14 months remaining on his UW contract.

    Keith Heyward

    Keith Heyward

Contracts for Sarkisian and his assistants also indicate that any coach who leaves early could lose bonuses for the team’s upcoming bowl game.  The 8-4 Huskies are expected to draw a bid to a non-BCS bowl game, but invitations have yet to be extended.

Sarkisian would’ve received a $150,000 bowl bonus, while each assistant would have been paid an extra $5,000. UW officials have yet to say definitively whether the bowl bonuses will not be paid.

Comments | More in Sports | Topics: Chris Petersen, Johnny Nansen, Justin Wilcox

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