Yesterday I wrote about how Roy Williams had the career every coach dreamed of. Bill Self now has the contract that coaches can’t even approach even in their wildest, deepest REM dreams.
Kansas announced Friday it has signed the Jayhawks’ basketball coach to a lifetime contract. That’s not a euphemism — a term a school might use for a 10-year deal awarded to a coach in his mid 60s. No, this is a lifetime contract.
Kansas signs #KUbball head coach Bill Self to lifetime contract
— Kansas Jayhawks (@KUAthletics) April 2, 2021
In practical terms, Self’s current contract — set to expire next month — has been ripped up and he’s signed a new deal with a rolling 5-year term. He’ll be paid $5.41 million per year, with $240,000 annually in private jet travel with bonuses up to $200,000 for leading the Jayhawks to the national championship.
Kansas, by the way, is without a permanent athletics director and a permanent head football coach at the moment.
“For almost 20 years, Coach Self has embodied the spirit and tradition of the University of Kansas, leading our men’s basketball program to a national championship, 15 Big 12 titles and 17 NCAA Tournament appearances,” KU chancellor Doug Girod said. “We believe in Coach Self and we believe in the future of our program under his leadership, and we are thrilled that he will continue to be a Jayhawk for the rest of his coaching career.”
But wait, you say, isn’t Kansas staring down the barrel of major NCAA sanctions? Wouldn’t that have an affect on Self’s employment at KU?
Yes, they are. And no, it won’t.
The new contract includes the standard language that Self is subject to discipline, suspension and/or termination if he is found personally responsible for violating NCAA rules, but it also includes a specific carve-out for the current investigation. Self cannot be fired if Kansas is hit with NCAA sanctions.
Not only that, he’d still get paid 50 percent of his salary over the term of any possible suspension.
If Kansas were to fire Self without cause, the school would owe him a full year’s salary plus the prorated portion of his annual retention bonus, which is $2.75 million per year.
Self replaced Williams as KU’s head coach in 2003, and has since gone 522-118 with 23 Big 12 championships, nine Elite Eights, three Final Fours and in 2008 led the school to its second national title.
And now he’s got tenure.
Aside from the fact Self cannot be fired if Kansas is found to have committed serious NCAA violations under his watch, the eye-popping aspect of this deal is the symbolism. Plenty of coaches effectively have tenure in their jobs — you think Bama is ever allowing Nick Saban’s contract to expire? — and KU can still pay Self a reasonable sum to go away if the product on the court takes a downturn. (Kentucky would have to pay John Calipari $54 million to leave, according to USA Today.) But by slapping the word “lifetime” front and center in Friday’s announcement, Kansas is standing in front of the world and declaring Self is the most powerful person at the entire university.
“Every day, I am reminded just how fortunate I am to lead this storied program and there truly is no place else I would rather be. As we continue to work through the challenges facing our program, we look forward to moving ahead and focusing on our bright future,” Self said.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.