New EMU athletic director to earn $269K

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

New Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee will earn an annual salary of $269,000 under a five-year contract that is expected to be signed within the next 60 days.

In a Memorandum of Understanding obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information Act request, Wetherbee also can earn an additional 20 percent of his base salary (about $54,000) through academic and athletic achievement bonuses.

New Eastern Michigan athletic director Scott Wetherbee is introduced on campus last week.

The specific payouts for specific bonuses aren’t in the memorandum, but should be spelled out in the full contract.

Wetherbee’s predecessor, Heather Lyke, earned a base salary of $245,000 before leaving in March to take the athletic-director job at Pittsburgh.

As part of his employment agreement, Wetherbee also will be entitled to standard university benefits, including a monthly $500 stipend for a car lease and full relocation expenses as he moves from his previous post in the Mississippi State athletic department.

Wetherbee, in bullet-point terms he signed for June 22, is not allowed to seek or apply for positions outside the university without notifying university officials, including Eastern Michigan president James Smith. The deal also includes a substantial buyout — if he leaves before the five-year deal is up, he would owe a buyout of half his guaranteed base salary for the remainder of the contract.

On the flip side, if he’s dismissed without cause, he would be owed half his guaranteed base salary for the remainder of the contract.

Wetherbee is taking over an athletic department that has its significant challenges, financially and performance-wise, playing in the shadows of the University of Michigan. EMU’s football team, though, was 7-6 last season, its first winning season since 1995, while making its first bowl game since 1986. Coach Chris Creighton recently received a five-year extension that was authorized by Smith, given Wetherbee hasn’t officially started yet.

Wetherbee officially will start work in Ypsilanti later this month.

His base salary is just below the $275,000 Central Michigan authorized for its new athletic director, Michael Alford, who officially started on the job this week.