Mel Tucker gets raise to $5.5M per year as Michigan State football coach

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Mel Tucker got a significant raise when he decided to leave Colorado to become Michigan State’s 25th football coach.

Tucker was introduced on Wednesday evening, replacing Mark Dantonio, who stepped down after 13 seasons while becoming the program’s winningest coach. Earlier in the evening, Tucker signed a six-year contract that will pay him $5.5 million annually, a significant bump from the $2.675 million he made in his lone season at Colorado’s head coach.

Mel Tucker will make $5.5 million per year as Michigan State's head football coach.

In Tucker’s contract that Michigan State released Thursday, the new coach will be paid a base salary of $3.8 million in addition to $1.3 million in supplemental income and a $400,000 contingent annual bonus.

According to college coaching salaries in 2019 compiled by USA Today, Tucker would be the 12th-highest paid coach in the nation behind Penn State’s James Franklin and just ahead of Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald. He would be the fourth-highest paid coach in the Big Ten behind Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm and Franklin.

In addition to Tucker’s annual salary, there are a number of performance-incentive bonuses included in the contract, including $100,000 for winning the Big Ten East Division as well as another $100,000 for winning a conference championship.

Other performance bonuses include:

► $25,000 if he’s named Big Ten Coach of the Year

► $50,000 for National Coach of the Year by the Football Coaches Association

► $75,000 if the team plays in any bowl game as the Big Ten’s No. 4 or lower overall team

► $125,000 if the team plays in a non-College Football Playoff bowl as the No. 2 or No. 3 overall team from the Big Ten

► $250,000 if the team plays in a CFP non-semifinal bowl game

► $275,000 if the team plays in a CFP semifinal game

► $300,000 if the team plays in the College Football Championship game

► $375,000 if the team wins the College Football Championship game

The contract also spells out Tucker’s buyout while stipulating the university is paying $3 million to Colorado as part of his buyout from that contract.

Tucker’s buyout at Michigan State is $6 million before Jan. 15 of 2021 and drops to $2.5 million in 2022. It drops to $2 million in 2023, $1.5 million in 2024 and $1 million after that.

The deal also guarantees $6 million for the pool of 10 assistant coaches. That’s just more than $1 million more than Dantonio had last season for his assistant coaches and would place Michigan State ninth in the nation, just behind Michigan’s pool of $6,005,000.

The contract also includes an item that says if Michigan State is hit with any NCAA sanctions relative to scholarship losses for bowl bans from actions prior to the agreement that the contract would not be affected. It also says the contract would be extended by the length of any sanctions.

Former staffer Curtis Blackwell is suing Dantonio, former athletic director Mark Hollis and former president Lou Anna K. Simon for wrongful termination as well as the MSU Police for wrongful arrest. In recent depositions, Blackwell has made accusations of several NCAA recruiting violations. Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman has denied the allegations and has said MSU is prepared to defend itself if necessary.

Last week, the NCAA would not comment on whether there were any pending investigations.

Twitter: @mattcharboneau