HomeSportsMulkey's record-breaking LSU deal comes with a bargain

Mulkey’s record-breaking LSU deal comes with a bargain

Kim Mulkey’s new 10-year, $36 million contract with LSU, the richest deal for a female college coach, can still be terminated relatively cheaply by the school.

Under the additional terms of her revised employment agreement — which was signed in July but officially approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors on Friday — Mulkey can be terminated at any time without cause for the all-in cost of $2 million.

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That’s the same divorce figure Mulkey negotiated when she first took the Tigers job in 2021 — and a fraction of the buyout the Southeastern Conference school would owe to its male counterpart, men’s basketball coach Matt McMahon, who Mulkey now better deserves.

While Mulkey is expected to receive $3.15 million this fiscal year, compared to McMahon’s $2.7 million package, his current termination fee would be nearly $14 million – or 80% of the remaining compensation on his deal, which runs through 2029. Basketball bosses’ buyouts pale in comparison to LSU football coach Brian Kelly’s pay-to-go toll, which currently costs nearly $70 million.)

Neither Mulkey nor LSU athletic director Scott Woodward responded to requests for comment.

Last year, Mulkey led the Lady Tigers to the school’s first-ever national title in basketball, while McMahon’s squad finished with a losing record and a 14th-place finish in the SEC.

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LSU has a notable history of paying out millions to former coaches it no longer wants. According to SporticoAccording to the Intercollegiate Finances database, the school spent the seventh-highest amount on severance payments among public, non-military FBS institutions in 2021-2022.

Mulkey’s $2 million buyout matches that of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley, who is now the second-highest paid women’s college coach, with $3.1 million benefiting her this year.

Both fare worse in terms of sacks than Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, previously the top earner in college women’s coaching despite making more money than the Huskies hero.

Auriemma’s current deal, which pays him $3 million this season, began in 2021 with a $5 million buyout that decreases by $500,000 each year until the end of the term. As such, he would now be owed $3.5 million if fired without cause.

Mulkey’s new contract, meanwhile, increases her salary by $100,000 per year through 2033, when she would theoretically earn $3.65 million for her final season. (If she’s still coaching in Baton Rouge by then, it’s likely her contract would have been renegotiated one more time, if not many times.)

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If Mulkey quits at any point, the contract stipulates that she will owe the school the same lump sum of $2 million. In contrast, McMahon’s agreement calls for him to pay LSU $5 million in damages if he leaves between now and next July, an amount that will decrease by $1 million each year through 2028. If Auriemma wants to leave early, his contract gives him the option to receive compensation. a $1.5 million golden handshake or a new job in the athletic department that would pay him $500,000 a year for five years.

Before coming to LSU, the 61-year-old Mulkey spent 21 seasons at Baylor, where she led the Lady Bears to four Final Fours and three national titles. Despite her success, her tenure at Waco was fraught with controversy. In 2017, she tearfully apologized for the “very poor choice of words” she used in defending the school amid a Title IX scandal.

After her 500th career victory, Mulkey had told the home crowd after the game, “If anyone around you says, ‘I will never send my daughter to Baylor,’ you punch them right in the face.”

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At the time, the private Baptist school faced national backlash for suppressing numerous allegations of rape and sexual misconduct on campus, including dozens of alleged incidents involving football players. The scandal ultimately led to the resignations of head football coach Art Briles and school president Ken Starr. In her mea culpaMulkey said she wasn’t being literal in her reference to punches and that she is not a “violent person.”

The coach has also had a tense relationship with her former Baylor star, Brittney Griner, who went public in 2013 with claims that Mulkey told her and other gay players to keep their sexuality a secret. Mulkey was the subject of criticism last September when she repeatedly refused to offer public support to Griner following her arrest in Russia, ostensibly on drug-related charges. Finally, Mulkey said during a Final Four press conference last March that she was happy that Griner, who was released as part of a prison swap, had returned safely to the United States.

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