Lincoln Riley’s 15-page contract includes big bonuses

The Tulsa World and The Associated Press - June 18, 2019 11:46 am

Lincoln Riley

Lincoln Riley’s rich, new coaching contract at Oklahoma could earn him a $400,000 bonus for winning a national championship. It also has him forfeiting to the school the right to his name and likeness for advertising and promotional purposes in perpetuity.

The Tulsa World received a copy of the OU head coach’s contract through an open records request.

The 15-page document allows a peek into Riley’s five-year, $32.5 million deal which runs through the 2023 football season. It was approved by the OU Board of Regents on Jan. 30.

Riley will earn $6 million in 2019. The amount increases by $150,000 over the next four years and includes a $1 million bonus if he remains as the Sooners head coach on April 1, 2021 (which would fall before the third season of the contract).

Riley’s annual base salary is $325,000, and the majority of his multi-million dollar salary is paid from unrestricted private funds and/or outside athletics-related income.

During a Friday interview with the Tulsa World, Riley was asked if it bothered him that every aspect of his contract is made public. “No, not at all,” he said.

When Riley arrived as OU’s offensive coordinator in 2015, he made $500,000. He received $800,000 in 2016 and was originally pegged to make $1.3 million entering his third season as offensive coordinator before being promoted to head coach. He made $3.1 million in 2017 and $4.8 million last season.

The $1.2 million increase to $6 million is the largest salary bump in OU football history.

Bob Stoops made $5.55 million in his 18th and final season as head coach.

Riley told the Tulsa World on Friday that money hasn’t changed his family.

“You get to a point where that’s not your focus,” Riley said. “We don’t live a much different lifestyle than we ever did before. That’s the way me and my wife were brought up. The joy is the job and the opportunity and sharing it with our family. That’s the focus.”

Oklahoma was proactive on retaining the coach, who was linked to multiple NFL jobs last year. Just 72 hours after the Sooners’ season ended with an Orange Bowl loss to Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal game, the school announced a contract extension on New Year’s Day.

What happens if Riley chooses to leave the Sooners following the 2019 season for another football job?

The contract specifies the coach would be responsible to pay OU 22.5 percent (about $4.6 million) of the remaining guaranteed compensation. The amount drops about $1 million each year. On March 16, 2022, the amount will be waived by OU.

Riley’s contract also includes an attachment by former OU President James Gallogly dated Feb. 21. The presidential directive focuses on NCAA compliance and specifically notes that Oklahoma head coaches are presumed responsible for all violations of NCAA rules and regulations.

There is also a “publicity rights” section of Riley’s contract.

OU has the royalty-free right and license to use Riley’s name, likeness and all other publicity rights for any and all advertising/promotional purposes.

Following the expiration or termination of Riley’s employment, Riley “specifically and irrevocably grants University a royalty-free and perpetual license to utilize his name and likeness and all other of Coach’s publicity rights.” The contract states that OU would consult with Riley regarding any post-termination use of the coach’s name and likeness.

There are several perks and performance bonuses.

Riley receives $700,000 as an annual stay benefit if he remains employed as OU’s head coach on June 1 of each contract year.

Riley gets 20 football tickets to each game and an additional eight tickets which allow access to a suite. He receives use of a vehicle and 35 hours of private airplane availability for personal use (which is a taxable fringe benefit) or business use (recruiting, team travel other than the team play, university activities). He also has playing privileges at two unnamed local golf courses.

If OU wins the Big 12 title, Riley earns $100,000. An appearance in the championship game will draw $50,000.

He’ll also receive one of the following: $50,000 for a top five finish in the CFP ranking, $100,000 for a CFP bowl appearance, $150,000 for a CFP semifinal appearance, $200,000 for a CFP national championship game appearance and $400,000 for winning a national title.

Riley would have earned a $300,000 bonus in 2018 under the current terms. ($150,000 for CFP game, $100,000 for winning Big 12 title, $50,000 for top five finish in CFP ranking).

There’s a scale for graduation rates, ranging for $30,000 for a 65% rate to $125,000 for a 100% rate. He also gets $25,000 if he’s named Big 12 coach of the year and $50,000 if chosen as the Associated Press national coach of the year.

In addition to the annual stay benefit after two seasons, Riley gets an annual amount of $1 million deposited into a supplemental retirement income plan. Riley is immediately fully vested in the plan.

If the school terminates Riley’s employment without cause, it would be responsible to pay 80% of the remaining guaranteed compensation. That percentage increases by 5% for each Big 12 title achieved during the term up to 95%.


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