Mike Riley’s firing comes with more than just the expectation that Nebraska will find a big-name replacement.
It also comes with a hefty price tag for the athletic department.
NU is on the hook for more than $14 million in total buyouts between coaches and former athletic director Shawn Eichorst, according to contracts obtained by the Journal Star, though it’s unlikely the school will actually pay the full amount.
Riley’s contract calls for payments of $170,000 per month through Feb. 28, 2021 — 39 months beginning Dec. 1 — for a total of $6.63 million.
Eichorst offered in January to extend Riley’s contact from four years to five, officially adding $2 million to the buyout total ahead of an eventual 4-8 season.
The Huskers this year are paying their nine full-time assistant coaches a total of $3,722,500 in base salary. All but three make at least $400,000 — defensive coordinator Bob Diaco ($825,000), offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf ($500,000), offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh ($450,000), linebackers coach Trent Bray ($425,000), wide receivers coach Keith Williams ($400,000) and cornerbacks coach Donte Williams ($400,000). Running backs coach Reggie Davis makes $350,000, defensive line coach John Parrella makes $272,500 and safeties coach Scott Booker makes $100,000.
All but Booker have contracts that run through Jan. 31, 2019 — his one-year deal is through Jan. 31, 2018 — and all nine have language that calls for them to be paid their monthly salary through the term of the contract.
That total comes to $4.2 million.
The important qualifier in all of this is that buyout totals for Riley and all of the assistants will be mitigated by future employment.
But the current staff members are not the only ones that NU will continue paying.
In addition, the Huskers are still paying former head coach Bo Pelini $128,000 per month through Feb. 28, 2019, for a total of $1.92 million, and Eichorst approximately $81,000 per month through June 30, 2019, for a total of $1.52 million.
Eichorst’s estimated total is based on Chancellor Ronnie Green’s statement that the school owed him about $1.7 million at the time of his firing in September.
All told, the pre-mitigation price tag as of Dec. 1 tallies to an estimated $14,331,140.
Other key staff members, such as Billy Devaney, the executive director of player personnel and special assistant to the head coach, who makes more than $300,000 annually, also have buyout language or severance agreements in their deals.