MSU, Mel Tucker complete landmark 10-year, $95M contract extension

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Editor's note: Mat Ishbia, the CEO on Pontiac-based United Wholesale Mortgage Holding Corp., and Shift Digital CEO Stephen St. Andre will donate $24 million to Michigan State athletics with each noting their preference the money go toward the football program and the funding of MSU head football coach Mel Tucker’s salary, in an agreement made public Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022. The description of the amount was incorrect in a story published Nov. 25, 2021.

Michigan State completed a historic contract extension for head football coach Mel Tucker on Wednesday night, the university announced.

Michigan State confirmed the new contract is a 10-year deal worth $95 million. According to the school's release, Tucker's contract is valued at $9.5 million per year, including a $5.9 million base salary, $3.2 million in supplemental compensation for media and personal appearances, plus a $400,000 contingent annual bonus. The contract expires on Jan. 15, 2032.

The new deal makes Tucker the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten and the second-highest paid coach in the country behind Alabama's Nick Saban, a former MSU coach who makes $9.753 million.

Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker and his team take the field for the start of the game against Western Kentucky in East Lansing on Oct. 2, 2021.

"Every day I wake up feeling humbled to be the Head Football Coach at Michigan State," Tucker said in a statement provided to The News. "It is my privilege to work alongside our student-athletes, coaches and staff who embody our culture of hard work, discipline, and excellence — on and off the field.

"Thank you to our Board of Trustees, President Stanley and our administration, Alan Haller and the athletics staff, our incredible donors and fans — and of course Coach Izzo for the support and resources you provide MSU to build Spartan football — we could not do it without you.

"The mentorship and friendship of Mat Ishbia, Steve St. Andre, Brian Mosallam and Jason Strayhorn — particularly during this process — has been invaluable to me. It is a process to build a championship-winning program. A process that drives us to be better. A process that demands relentless soul and grit. And a process that requires support from Spartans across the globe.

"I am honored to be a part of the Spartan process today, and for years to come."

The new contract makes Tucker, 49, the highest-paid Black head coach in American sports, surpassing Stanford's David Shaw, who is making just more than $8.9 million per year. Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers is the highest-paid Black coach in the NFL at $8 million a year, while Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers earns the same in the NBA. 

Providence's Ed Cooley was the highest-paid Black head coach in college basketball at $3.4 million in 2020-21, according to a USA Today salary database.

“The decision to extend Mel Tucker’s contract is not based on one year of results, but rather it’s an investment in a promising future for Spartan football,” MSU athletic director Haller said in a statement. “Since his hire in February 2020, the program has experienced high levels of success in three key areas: student-athlete development —  on and off the field, recruiting momentum and donor and alumni base engagement and support. Mel has brought an energy to this program which has benefitted not only our athletic department, but also the university and the surrounding community.”

Added MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.: “Mel Tucker has been an outstanding addition to our Spartan Athletic program. In less than two years, his leadership has already resulted in a program competing for top honors, and I’m impressed by his intensity and drive. Spartan fans around the country are enjoying the success of this year’s football program and we look forward to many more successful seasons, competing at the highest levels under Coach Tucker.”

Mosallam, the former MSU Trustee who was instrumental in helping put the deal together, applauded the news.

"Humility, honor, respect," Mosallam said. "That's how one would describe Mat Ishbia and Steve St. Andre ... the definition of true Spartans."

Tucker, who was a head coach one season at Colorado in 2019, was 2-5 in his first season at Michigan State in 2020. He has flipped things quickly in 2021 as Michigan State (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) is the No. 12 team in the country and is preparing to face Penn State on Saturday.

Private funding is responsible for the bulk of the contract with United Wholesale Mortgage president and CEO Ishbia at the forefront of the push to secure a new contract for Tucker, along with longtime donor and CEO of Shift Digital St. Andre.

“Some of the greatest success we’ve had as a basketball program at Michigan State has come when the football team has experienced its own success," Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo said in a statement. "Simply put, when football is successful, it makes our entire department better — it helps recruiting, it benefits fundraising, everyone just has more Spartan pride.

"There’s no question that Mel and his team are having a great season. It’s been fun, not only to watch them play, but also to talk to the team when Mel’s invited me to do so. It’s very apparent something special is happening in the football building and I’m excited to be a part of it.

"In Mel, I think we have a driven, no-nonsense coach who I’m happy will be around us for the next 10 years. We have recruited, fundraised and are building a friendship which I think will help Michigan State be in a position to be one of the premier programs in the country."

Twitter: @mattcharboneau