In an unprecedented move, Nevada's Jay Norvell is poised to take the Colorado State job, which would make him the first head football coach to jump from one Mountain West school directly to another.
It will be a costly hire for Colorado State, which paid former head coach, Steve Addazio, a $3 million buyout after he was fired last week. And the Rams will owe the Wolf Pack almost $2 million to buy Norvell out of his contract.
Per Norvell's contract signed in February 2020, if Norvell leaves before the end of his contract, he must pay Nevada his remaining base salary and media and public appearance salary for the remainder of his contract. The payment would be made in one lump sum and would be due within 60 days of his departure date.
Norvell makes $52,083 monthly and has 38 months left on his contract, which equals a buyout of roughly $1,979,154 owed to Nevada within 60 days of him signing the Colorado State contract. That would be the largest coaching buyout Nevada has ever received, topping the $1 million Eric Musselman owed the Wolf Pack when he left for Arkansas in April 2019. Coaching buyouts are typically paid by the hiring university rather than the coach himself.
Norvell was making $625,000 per year at Nevada (technically $619,250 this year as part of COVID-19 reductions), up from the $450,000 annually in his initial contract signed in December 2017. That $625,000 annual rate ranked last among 12 MW head coaches and was 113th out of 122 FBS head coaches at public universities. The MW average head-coaching salary was $1,196,705. Addazio made $1.55 million this season and was in line for $1.6 million next year.
Per sources, Nevada made a push to keep Norvell by offering around $5 million over five years on a new contract, but that is not excepted to rival what he will make at Colorado State, which has paid its last two head coaches — Mike Bobo and Addazio — at least $1.5 million annually, and the expectation is Norvell will make at least that on his new deal.
Colorado State got a $7 million buyout when its football coach Jim McElwain left for Florida following the 2014 season but has been in the negative with buyouts since then. Since 2018, it has been responsible for more than $6 million to pay off fired football coaches Bobo and Addazio and basketball coach Larry Eustachy.
Norvell would be just the fourth Wolf Pack football coach to leave Nevada for another college football job, joining Jeff Horton (to UNLV in 1994), Jim Aiken (to Oregon in 1947) and R.E. Courtright (to Colorado Mines in 1924).