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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Golden parachute to break Rodriguez’s fall

Heather Newberry
Arizona football head coach Rich Rodriguez during the UA-ASU rivalry game on Nov. 25 at Sun Devil Stadium.

The University of Arizona head football coach Rich Rodriguez was fired on Jan. 2. Per the terms of his contract, he will receive a $6.28 million payout from the UA.

In October, Rodriguez was accused of sexual harassment by his former administrative assistant. The ensuing private investigation concluded on Dec. 28 and found her claims to be unsubstantiated. Rodriguez’s employment was later terminated. Officially, he was fired without cause. This entitles him to collect the full pay for the remainder of the duration of his contract.

The current version of Rodriguez’s contract was approved by former UA director of athletics Greg Byrne, the Arizona Board of Regents and Rodriguez on June 17, 2015. The terms of the contract were agreed to until May 31, 2020. As of 2017, his base salary totaled $2,475,000, increasing by $100,000 per year. This sum does not include any additional compensation, such as third-party income or bonuses.

          RELATED: Rich Rodriquez fired after internal investigation

In the contract, Rodriguez’s payout is referred to as liquidated damages and totals $6.28 million. The money is to be paid to Rodriguez in one lump sum within 30 days of his employment’s termination. He is not entitled to continue receiving any university benefits nor any benefits associated with the head coach position.

According to the contract, “The parties have bargained for this liquidated damages provision giving consideration to the fact that this is a contract for personal services.” It was agreed to in order to compensate for the loss of benefits, supplemental compensation and employment-related compensation the coach would lose if terminated before the contract’s expiration.

There is no mitigation clause included. If Rodriguez is employed elsewhere during the period covered by the contract, the payout sum will not be reduced. In the event of termination with cause, “the university’s sole obligation to coach shall be payment of his base salary,” according to the countract. It doesn’t specify the duration for which this base salary would be paid to the coach. 

According to the contract, valid causes for termination include, but are not limited to, six specific instances. The first of these six is “demonstrated dishonesty.” There is no futher explaination of what qualifies as demonstrated dishonesty. Personal conduct was also included as a cause, but only if it substantially impaired the coach’s fulfillment of assigned duties and responsibilities.

In an email to students, UA President Dr. Robert Robbins and Dave Heeke, director of athletics, wrote that the decision of terminations was “based on several factors, including the direction and climate of our football program.” These factors have not yet been shared with the community. 

          RELATED: Arizona fires football head coach Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez subject to workplace misconduct claim

Chris Sigurdson, vice president of communications, said there is no further comment at this time.

It’s unknown why the university chose to terminate Rodriguez’s employment without cause.

Under the contract’s terms, it could be terminated “by the director or his designated representative at any time without cause.” It was not necessary for the Regents to approve this decision, though Regent Chairman Bill Ridenour told the Arizona Republic he supported it.

Ridenour also said that no tuition dollars or public money will fund the buyout. He continued that the situation has raised concerns about athletic contracts and the board plans to “review our whole contract situation” in January’s meeting.

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