Jen Smith on UK Football

A look at how it pays to not coach

Just a preview of something you’ll find in the football notebook later this afternoon along with a chart of the severance paid to former coaches by Kentucky the past two years ...

A recent Washington Post story took a look at severance packages that schools were paying for coaches to no longer coach. The report listed Kentucky as seventh highest among the Power Five conferences in 2014.

Turns out it year was a pricey year -- with more than $1.4 million paid out to former coaches, many who have moved on to schools that UK directly competes with on the field -- but it also was the final year on many of the costliest contracts.

A Herald-Leader open records request showed that a vast majority of the severance payouts for the 2013-14 fiscal year were to former members of Joker Phillips’ coaching staff, including $246,782 paid to special teams/tight ends coach Greg Nord (now at Florida, formerly at Western Kentucky), $216,363 to former linebackers coach Chuck Smith.

A season after winning a national title coaching quarterbacks at Florida State, former UK offensive coordinator Randy Sanders still was paid $137,363 in salary and benefits by Kentucky in 2014.

Phillips himself received a lump sum payment when he was fired, a UK official confirmed in 2013, but his staff was paid more than $1.2 million through 2014.

A few other sports were represented in the 2014 payments, including two former women’s basketball assistant coaches -- Jeff House ($58,873) and Shalon Pillow ($48,819) -- who were fired by Matthew Mitchell.

The severance package payouts decreased significantly after the football coaches’ contracts were completed, with UK reporting that it paid out just $22,258 in the 2014-15 fiscal year to a women’s soccer assistant coach and a women’s golf coach.

There will be two new football names added to the ledger in the 2015-16 round after the firings of offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord before the ends of their respective contracts.

Dawson’s deal has him making $550,000 through June 30, 2018. Mainord is scheduled to be paid $275,000 a year until June 30, 2017, per his newest contract, which was signed less than a year ago.

Both contracts stipulate that UK has a right to reduce its payment obligations based on compensation from the coach’s next employer, which in Mainord’s case is North Texas. Dawson has not been hired by another school yet.

It’s hardly a one-way street, though. Kentucky has benefitted from such arrangements as well, including co-defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley, who still had time on his contract after being let go at Tennessee.

In Ansley’s first season on staff, Kentucky paid him just $125,000 while he collected his buyout from UT. Once that was completed, UK increased his salary to the full $250,000 in 2014.

Kentucky’s 2014 buyout numbers paled in comparison to other Power Five schools ahead of it, according to that Washington Post report. The top payers were at Auburn ($4.8 million), Oregon State ($4.1 million), Minnesota ($3.3 million), Illinois ($3.2 million), California ($2.4 million) and Washington State ($1.8 million).

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