Bill O’Brien Gets New Contract, $1 Million Raise

For a man who doesn’t often smile (at least in public), Bill O’Brien is probably smiling today.

The head coach will receive a significant raise beginning in July, Penn State announced today. Rumors swirled in January about a possible raise to O’Brien’s contract financed by Penn State alum billionaire Terry Pegula after O’Brien interviewed with several NFL teams. Penn State vehemently denied those reports (called them “malarky,” in fact), but it turns out they may have had some merit.

O’Brien earned a $950,000 base salary in 2012-2013, plus about $1.35 million from radio/television appearances and a Nike sponsorship. That $2.3 million is set to jump to almost $3.3 million next season as his base salary increases to $1,932,779.

“In the face of great adversity, Bill did a tremendous job with all facets of the Penn State football program,” AD David Joyner said. “This rightly recognizes Bill’s outstanding achievements in guiding our student-athletes on and off the field.”

O’Brien’s base salary will decrease to $1,137,096 in 2014-2015, jump to $1,650,994 in 2015-2016, and increase 5 percent each year after that.

Tom Dienhart of the Big Network announced earlier today that O’Brien had canned his agent Joe Linta and hired Neil Cornrich. This contract news likely had something to do with that decision.

In the event that O’Brien leaves for the NFL, his buyout is the current year’s salary multiplied by years remaining on the deal. His buyout is $7.7 million after the 2013 season, $3.4 million after 2014, and $3.3 million after 2015. This contract almost certainly secures O’Brien for another two seasons, which should make Penn State fans sleep better at night after January’s scare.

O’Brien also receives a number of other benefits in the contract, including a guaranteed van to accomodate a special needs passenger (his son Jack has the rare neurological disorder, Lissencephaly).

There’s also a clause in the new contract relating to compensation based on the NCAA sanctions. Because O’Brien is ineligible to receive bowl game or BCS bonuses, his contract stipulates that Penn State will pay a supplemental compensation amount “not to exceed a maximum of $200,000” that it “estimates (O’Brien) might have earned had such sanctions not been imposed, taking into consideration the team’s record, the records of other teams in the Conference, estimated chances of success and other relevant factors.”

All in all, O’Brien’s first give years as Penn State coach will now pay him $15.59 million, an average of $3.1 million per year. That makes the coach the third-highest paid coach in the Big Ten, behind only Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. He becomes the 11th highest paid college football coach in the nation, according to USA Today figures.

You can read the new 15-page contract below:

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About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]


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