GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Steve Spurrier really is No.1 now.
College football's most high-profile coach is now its newest million-dollar man. Spurrier, who has led the University of Florida to national prominence since returning to his alma mater in 1990, recently completed a seven-year multi-million dollar contract, which was obtained on Tuesday by the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla.
The deal makes him college football's highest-paid coach.
"We kind of quietly did it, I guess," said Spurrier, who signed the contract in February, but had to wait until the contract officially cleared proper legal channels last week. "I'm very happy with it, and very happy to be at the University of Florida."
The deal, which includes numerous bonuses, is back-loaded with incentives to entice Spurrier to stay at Florida. Although he can end the contract any time without penalty, the longer he stays, the more money he makes.
Spurrier, 51, who made a little more than $700,000 last year, will make $940,810 this season, not including bonuses. The payoff increases with each season: $953,810 in 1997, $1,160,669 in 1998, $1,173,315 in 1999 and $1,336,847 in 2000. The last two years are option years, and the salary will be renegotiated if both parties agree to employment.
Those numbers don't include annual benefits, which include cars in the "medium price range" and insurance for him and his wife, Jerri. He also receives 12 tickets to all home games in the "stadium priority area." Those benefits alone push him over the $1 million mark in 1996-97.
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, whose contract runs through 2001, makes $975,000 annually. The only other coach near Spurrier's level is Notre Dame's Lou Holtz, who recently signed a contract estimated at $975,000 per season. Both of those coaches also have bonuses.
If the Gators, currently ranked No.1 in the polls, were to win the national championship, Spurrier would receive $80,925 in bonuses, pushing his salary this season to $1,071,735.
"His compensation is very deserving," said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley. "Some folks say it's too much money. But that's where he belongs in terms of the market and what's out there. And if anybody deserves it, it's Steve Spurrier."
Foley began the contract revisions before last year's Fiesta Bowl, and had the groundwork complete - minus legal interpretation - soon after Spurrier turned down a five-year, $12-million offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January.
"Our competition for his service is the next level, professional football," Foley said. "We recognize that. Therefore, he is compensated fairly."
But not without an eye on the future. The biggest selling point for Spurrier to finish the contract are longevity incentives - three non-interest loans to be paid off if he is still coaching.
As part of his previous contract, Spurrier received a $175,000 loan in 1992, and will not have to pay it back if he is still coaching in 1999. In 1995, he received a $125,000 loan and will not have to pay it back if he is still coaching in 2000.
The new addition to this contract is a $250,000 loan he is expected to receive within 30 days of the agreement. If he is still coaching in 2000, he will not have to pay it off. All three loans have a six-percent interest rate if he fails to complete the contract.
"It's the new way they're doing things now," Spurrier said. "There's some incentive in staying to the year 2000, that kind of thing."
Salary: $160,810 ('96); $168,850 ('97); $180,669 ('98); $193,315 ('99); $206,847 (2000); 2001-02 are to be negotiated (no less than $206,847).
TV/radio shows: $330,000 ('96-97); $340,000 ('98); $365,000 ('99-2000); No less than $365,000 (2001-02, if employed).
Related expenses incurred with TV/radio shows: $5,000
Speaking engagements: $125,000 (no fewer than 20 Gator Clubs).
Sports/fitness apparel endorsements: at least $225,000 ('96-97); not less than $235,000 through 2002.
Life insurance: $75,000 ('96-99); $100,000 (2000).
Non-interest loans*: $175,000 ('99); $125,000 (2000); $250,000 (2001).
Expense account: $20,000 ('96); $25,000 ('97-2002)
Total (not including bonuses): $940,810 ('96); $953,810 ('97); $1,160,669 ('98); $1,173,315 ('99); $1,336,847 (2000); to be negotiated (2001-02).
Bonuses: SEC Championship, $12,370; Orange, Rose, Sugar or Fiesta bowl invitation, $18,555; Any other NCAA sanctioned bowl, $12,370; National championship, $50,000; Graduation rates, 40-50 percent ($1,000); 60 percent ($12,370); 80 percent ($16,081)
Other: 12 free tickets (highest stadium priority area) to all home games, with the option to buy 40 more at face value. He and his wife will receive automobiles in the "medium price range."
Note: 2001-2002 are option years.
*--- Won't have to be repaid if employed at end of the 2000 season.