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Each bowl appearance will earn EMU's Chris Creighton extra year under new contract

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Eastern Michigan head football coach Chris Creighton's annual base salary has climbed to $540,000 for this season and is set to increase by $10,000 for each of the four remaining years on the deal he signed this month, topping out at $560,000 for the 2025 season.

That includes the $35,000 annual payment for TV and radio appearances and $25,000 for an annual retention bonus, the latter which he has the option of allocating $10,000 toward his staff salary pool, according to details of the contract obtained by The Detroit News.

Chris Creighton

The contract also will automatically extend by one year every time the Eagles make a bowl game under Creighton, as they've done three times in the last five seasons.

The contract, which also includes a long list of potential bonuses, results in a modest raise for Creighton's previous deal, which was signed in 2017. He remains in the middle of the Mid-American Conference in compensation, and still well behind Western Michigan's Tim Lester and Central Michigan's Jim McElwain.

Creighton, 52, took over a downtrodden Eastern Michigan program in 2014, and has brought a level of respectability, and a significant amount of stability. All this after there were cries, before his tenure and during his early years, to eliminate the program or downgrade it to Division II because of the financial strain it had become on the rest of the university.

Now, if Creighton completes this contract, he'll be the third-longest-tenured coach in program history, and the longest-tenured in nearly 60 years. Before his arrival, Eastern Michigan went through eight coaches, full-time and interim, since the start of the 1992 season.

His record at Eastern Michigan is 31-52, but 28-31 since the start of his third season. The Eagles are 1-1 this season, coming off a 34-7 loss at Wisconsin.

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Among the bonuses and clauses in his new contract:

► Every year Eastern Michigan makes a bowl game, he gets $25,000; every year the Eagles win a bowl, he gets an additional $25,000. If accomplished, Creighton's retention bonus goes up for each of the subsequent seasons of the contract, by $10,000 for an appearance and $20,000 for a win (as well as by $50,000 for a MAC championship).

► If the Eagles win the MAC West Division title and play in the MAC championship game, he gets $25,000. And if Eastern Michigan wins the MAC championship game, he gets an additional $30,000.

► Creighton has an escalating bonus structure for wins, starting at $10,000 if the team reaches seven, and he gets $25,000 if he's named MAC coach of the year.

► For each win over a Power Five program (Eastern Michigan has beaten three Big Ten teams during his tenure), he gets $15,000 and his assistant pool gets $25,000.

There also are bonuses tied to the team's academic performance.

As with his previous contracts, Creighton's new deal also focuses heavily on his staff, with clauses calling for staff-pool increases and bonuses for bowl appearances, bowl wins, MAC West titles and MAC championships.

Creighton's buyout — his name often gets floated in the coaching-carousel rumor mill — starts at $750,000 and drops to $400,000 for the fourth year of the deal. It is 50% of his remaining salary should he leave in December 2025, after the fifth season of the deal, and nothing if he leaves after that.

Creighton took over the program in 2013, coming from Drake. He’s the second-longest-tenured coach in the MAC, eight days shy of Miami (Ohio)’s Chuck Martin.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984