Steve Alford's contract with the Nevada athletic department is unprecedented on a number of levels.
For starters, it's a 10-year deal, twice as long as any other contract the Wolf Pack has given out, a move Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth was able to make in part because the Nevada Board of Regents are not longer heavily involved in the hiring process.
“With the new rules put in place with the Regents two or three years ago, they put hiring authority back into the president's hands," Knuth told NSN on Friday. "So the Regents don’t have to vote on the contract. They're just advised. President (Marc) Johnson has the authority to sign off on any contract and and trusted me that this is a good deal."
Alford's contract will guarantee him (and his LLC) $11.6 million over 10 years. His salary will start at $500,00 in the first two seasons before peaking at $1.5 million in the final year, which is the 2028-29 season. It's double the previous most expensive deal given out by Nevada, which was Eric Musselman's five-year, $5 million contract signed in 2017. Knuth said about 75 percent of the contract will be paid by the athletic department and 25 percent by boosters.
“It’s safe to say the donors stepped up to bridge the gap," Knuth said. "It's maybe funded three-quarters by us and about one-quarter by boosters. It's an important thing to know we don't get this done without amazing donors stepping up. They all knew Muss and felt good about Muss and here we go and find a coach they don't know but they're just as enthusiastic in supporting the hire because he has a really, really good reputation."
The contract also has a strong buyout both ways, with the 54-year-old Alford paying $8 million if he breaks the deal in his first season, $6 million in year two, $4 million in year three and so forth. Nevada's buyout also is big, as it'd owe Alford the remainder of his deal if he gets fired. It's a fully guaranteed contract.
“We talked to Steve and we didn't want to have another coach here for three or four years and then he's gone," Kunth said. "He said straight up he wanted to be in a great community and a place that loves basketball and wins championships. He said that we're at the top of the conference and he wants to keep us there and wants to win NCAA Tournament games here and that's why the buyout is so ridiculous. It's $8 million and $6 million and $4 million and those are giant buyout numbers for us basically paying $1.1 million a year. It's imbalanced on our part, but he said he wants this to be his last job."
Here are the full details of the deal, which was officially signed Thursday and provided to NSN via a public records request.
Mandatory background check
Alford is subject to a mandatory background check to be undertaken by Nevada within 30 days of the effective date of the agreement (April 11). If he does not pass the background check, Nevada can void the contract. This is standard practice for all contracts with the Wolf Pack.
Alford's contract is for 10 years and runs through April 30, 2029, although both sides could get out of the deal earlier while paying buyouts, which are outlined below.
Alford will be evaluated, per his contract, 40 percent on "competitiveness," 40 percent on "academics and rules compliance;" 10 percent on "institutional goals, including diversity and citizenship;" and 10 percent on "program administration."
His base salary is listed first followed by his media/public appearance salary that will be paid as long as Alford makes 10 radio appearances, 10 television/Internet appearances, five public-donor appearances and one Adidas-sponsored appearance and one Adidas-sponsored online/social network appearance per fiscal year. The final column is a payment to Steve Alford, LLC, which is set up for tax reasons but is essentially a payment to the coach. Add the three up and you get his total annual salary.
Year 1 (2019-20): $300,000/$100,000/$100,000. Total salary: $500,000
Year 2 (2020-21): $300,000/$100,000/$100,000. Total salary: $500,000
Year 3 (2021-22): $300,000/$425,000/$425,000. Total salary: $1.15 million
Year 4 (2022-23): $300,000/$450,000/$450,000. Total salary: $1.2 million
Year 5 (2023-24): $300,000/$475,000/$475,000. Total salary: $1.25 million
Year 6 (2024-25): $300,000/$500,000/$500,000. Total salary: $1.3 million
Year 7 (2025-26): $300,000/$525,000/$525,000. Total salary: $1.35 million
Year 8 (2026-27): $300,000/$550,000/$550,000. Total salary: $1.4 million
Year 9 (2027-28): $300,000/$575,000/$575,000. Total salary: $1.45 million
Year 10 (2028-29): $300,000/$600,000/$600,000. Total salary: $1.5 million
Total salary: 10 years, $11.6 million
Alford's LLC would get a $250,000 bonus if still employed by Nevada as of April 1, 2022 and another $250,000 bonus if still employed by Nevada as of April 1, 2025. So, if he stayed for his entire tenure, he'd get $12.1 million total.
Alford is eligible for these bonuses as long as the program's single-year APR meets the NCAA minimum threshold.
Winning or tying regular-season title: $10,000
Winning conference tournament title: $10,000
Winning conference coach or co-coach of the year award: $10,000
NCAA Tournament (these bonuses are cumulative)
Playing in the first round (round of 64 or 68): $10,000
Playing in the second round (round of 32): $10,000
Playing in the Sweet 16 (round of 32): $25,000
Playing in the Elite Eight: $50,000
Playing in the Final Four: $150,000
Winning the national championship: $250,000 (adding up the cumulative bonuses, it'd be a total of $495,000)
NIT (these bonuses are not cumulative)
Playing in the Final Four: $10,000
Playing in the NIT championship game: $25,000
Winning the NIT championship: $50,000
Within 30 days of beginning employment, Alford will get a one-time gross payment of $25,000 as relocation/moving expenses. If he leaves Nevada prior to April 11, 2020, he has to return that money.
Alford will get 12 free season tickets for basketball and eight free season tickets for the remainder of Nevada's sports. He will get one free loaned vehicles. He will also get a free membership at a local country club.
Termination by Nevada
If Nevada terminates Alford's contract prior to April 30, 2029, it would owe the coach the remainder of his base salary, media and public appearance fee, company name, image and likeness fee and retention bonuses fee for the remainder of the term at the time of termination. If Alford were to get a new job, his salary at that position would offset the amount the same amount of compensation owed to Alford by Nevada.
Termination by Alford
If Alford terminates his contract prior, he would owe the following amounts to Nevada. The amount must be paid within 20 calendar days of the termination date.
Year 1 (through June 30, 2020): $8 million
Year 2 (through June 30, 2021): $6 million
Year 3 (through June 30, 2022): $4 million
Year 4 (through June 30, 2023): $3 million
Year 5 (through June 30, 2024): $2 million
Year 6 (through June 30, 2025): $1.5 million
Year 7 (through June 30, 2026): $1.5 million
Year 8 (through June 30, 2027): $1.5 million
Year 9 (through June 30, 2028): $1.5 million
Year 10 (through June 30, 2029): $1.5 million (prorated for months remaining in contract)