EMU’s Creighton to hit $500K under new deal

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Eastern Michigan football coach Chris Creighton’s new, five-year contract extension features more annual base pay and increased payouts for bonuses that suddenly look a lot more achievable than they did when he took over the program in December 2013.

In his recently signed extension, obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information Act request, Creighton will earn $450,000 in 2017, the second-to-last year of his original contract, then earn an additional $10,000 each year, topping out at $500,000 in 2022.

That includes $25,000 a year for television and radio appearances, and keeps him in the middle of the pack in the Mid-American Conference. His salary was a steady $425,000 -- $400,000 base pay plus $25,000 for TV and radio -- during the first three years of his contract at Eastern.

After six years as head coach at Drake, Creighton, 48, was 2-10 in his first year at Eastern, and 1-11 in his second before one of the best turnarounds in the country this past season, when he guided the Eagles to a 7-6 record -- their first winning season since 1995 -- and a bowl game -- their first since 1986.

Creighton also is eligible for tens of thousands in bonuses, most of which didn’t seem all that realistic back in 2013, taking over following the firing of Ron English.

The bonus for winning the Mid-American Conference West Division increases from $20,000 to $10,000, winning the overall MAC championship goes to $30,000 from $20,000, and the stepladder payouts for winning seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 and 12 games in a season has increased slightly, too.

Additionally, Creighton’s new contract adds built-in bonuses to be divided among his assistant coaches.

Not increasing was Creighton’s bonus tied to attendance figures. Eastern football is among the lowest-attended Division I programs, and that barely changed despite last year’s winning season. Pepsi continues to have a contract buying up extra tickets to keep Eastern compliant with Division I attendance minimums.

Improving that will be a task for new athletic director Scott Wetherbee, whose contract details were just released, and he will make $269,000 a year.

Of note, Creighton’s potential buyout will decrease, too, a concession from the university that he could be a sought-after commodity if Eastern adds more winning seasons. If he leaves after this season, he would owe the university $600,000, then $500,000 the next year, then $400,000, then $300,000, and then $250,000.

His buyout was a flat $800,000 in his original deal, no matter which he year he left.