Copyright 2017 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Many people would like to tell off or ignore their boss and get paid for it. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy can do that very thing thanks to a new and unusual contract provision.
The deal that he and university officials signed this year says if Gundy is fired for insubordination toward his athletics director, currently Mike Holder, he is entitled to a buyout of $500,000 a year or partial year remaining on the agreement.
The deal is set up to have a rolling five-year term, with an initial end date of Dec. 31, 2021, and an automatic one-year extension each Jan. 1 unless the school provides written notice within seven days after the team's last game of any season.
Oklahoma State provided USA TODAY with a copy of the agreement in response to an open-records request.
Gundy, once a star quarterback for Oklahoma State, has spent all of his 12-plus seasons as a head coach at the school. He also worked as an assistant coach there for 10 seasons.
Well known for speaking his mind, Gundy has had years of ups and downs in his relationship with Holder, another longtime Oklahoma State employee. Holder has been in his current job since September 2005, about nine months after Gundy became head coach.
In a wide-ranging interview with USA TODAY Sports at his office in Boone Pickens Stadium this April, about a month before he signed an agreement that had been in the works since mid-June 2016, Gundy alluded to the tension inherent in his relationship with the athletics administration.
"People get mad at me about something all the time," he said.
"The people in this building right over here?" he added, pointing toward Gallagher-Iba Arena, which houses the administrative offices. "Hell, they stay mad at me 24/7. They'll eventually run me off. They'll get tired of me and run me off. But it is what it is."
Before his new contract, Gundy had been working under an agreement that began in January 2009 as a seven-year deal and was extended in 2012 to run through Dec. 31, 2019.
He came into this season with a 104-50 record at Oklahoma State. That mark includes 10 wins in each of the last two seasons and at least 10 wins in five of the last seven seasons.
This season, the Cowboys are 7-1, tied for first in the Big 12 Conference and ranked No. 10 in the Amway Coaches Poll heading into Saturday's game against No. 9 Oklahoma.
Gundy is being paid $4.2 million this year, an amount that is scheduled to increase by $125,000 annually.
The new contract's section titled "Termination by University for Just Cause" states that "just cause" includes any of 11 scenarios ranging from dishonesty; to improper personal conduct; to violations of NCAA, Big 12 Conference or school rules. Under 10 of those scenarios, the university's obligation to pay Gundy would cease as of the end of the month in which termination occurs.
However, it would have to pay Gundy the buyout if the termination is for insubordination, which is defined as: "Employee's failure or refusal to obey a directive from the (Athletics) Director after reasonable opportunity to comply, and/or failure by Employee to maintain communication with Director as may be reasonably necessary to maintain a proper working relationship."
The buyout would be subject to Gundy's obligation to try to find other employment, and his income from that work would offset what Oklahoma State would owe him.
"The contract was drafted with the expectation that Mike Gundy will remain at OSU as long as he wants to coach football," university spokesman Gary Shutt said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports. "Coach Gundy has built a top football program at his alma mater and done so the right way. The contract addresses the long-term interests of both the university and Coach Gundy. Both parties agreed to the termination and liquidated damages provisions and view them as acceptable given the rollover nature of the contract."
If Gundy were to be fired without cause, he would be owed 75% of the compensation remaining under the deal.
If he were to be fired because of a rules violation, he would have to return any performance bonus money paid after the date of the violation -- and he would have to pay the university up to $200,000 "provided that such damages are sustained by University as a direct result of significant or repetitive violation" of the rules.
Contributing: George Schroeder
Read More of Today's AB Headlines
Subscribe to Our Daily E-Newsletter