For a man known for his unintelligible and rambling press conferences, sharp tongue in response to criticism, and no-holds-barred attitude towards journalists that would dare criticize him, the most famous quote that Jim Calhoun ever delivered was all of four words long: “Nawt a dime back!”
If you’ve forgotten, that’s what Calhoun had to say to a reporter at a press conference that asked him about his $1.6 million salary and the fact that he was the highest paid employee of a state facing a massive budget deficit.
Calhoun eventually signed a new deal at the end of that season (in 2009) worth $13 million over five years. His retirement earlier this month came right before he was supposed to begin the fourth season in that five year deal. Would it surprise you if I told you that the same man that said he would give “nawt a dime back” has managed to finagle a way to make more money as a “retiree” than he would have if he had stayed on to coach this season?
The Hartford Courant’s excellent columnist Jeff Jacobs explains:
By remaining on the job while recuperating from a broken hip sustained Aug. 4 when he fell off a bicycle, Calhoun received the entire $1.3 million due him on Sept. 7, the first payroll period of September, for speaking fees and media appearances. The second of the semiannual payments is due in January, and as part of a transition agreement signed on Sept. 13, the amount was lowered from $1.3 million to $1.15 million.
There’s $2.45 million so far.
As part of the 2010 coaching deal, one save a few modifications that is still in full effect until March 21, 2013, Calhoun will receive a $400,000 annual salary, payable in equal installments every two weeks. That would mean he’d receive roughly 75 percent of the $400,000 [$292,307].
There’s $2.742 million guaranteed.
According to Article 10.1 of his 2010 deal, Calhoun can choose to accept a $1 million payment or an appointment of up to five years at $300,000 a year. That deadline is set in the transitional agreement at March 15.
If Calhoun decides to announce his retirement from his new advisory role before that March 15th deadline, he’ll receive a total of $3.742 million for the 2012-2013 season. Kevin Ollie, the Huskie’s new head coach who received a one-year tryout for the position, will make less than a tenth of that this season.
Jacobs raises a couple of interesting questions here. Why did UConn renegotiate a deal to pay his that $1.15 million in January instead of sticking to their guns and settling for the lump-sum payment or five-year, $300,000 annual contract? And if they are willing to pay him that much more this season, just how influential is his role going to be in the program? And if he’s going to have his hands in every aspect of the program, how is Ollie going to get a real feel for how to be the head coach of a team in the Big East?
That’s not what’s most interesting to me about this new information, however.
We all thought that Calhoun waited until midway through September to announce his retirement in an effort to force Warde Manuel’s hand and get him to hire Ollie. Turns out that was just a bonus.
The man was simply waiting on a $1.3 million payday. Ollie’s hiring was an added bonus.
Some folks will likely rip Calhoun for this. That’s the state’s money he’s taking, mind you. Some will criticize him for being selfish or greedy. I’m sure we’ll being hearing from folks perched up on their high horse who are willing to pretend that they wouldn’t hang around for an extra month or two for a seven-figure check.
I’d do the same thing Calhoun did. I’d take the money.
And I won’t feign outrage when Calhoun is simply doing exactly what everyone should have expected from him.
He was a hustla until final day on the job. Cassidy would be proud.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.