Texas A&M on the Hook for Over $77 million

The Texas A&M Aggies football season has not gone according to plan this year. The Aggies are currently 7-4, which for most college football teams would be a successful season. However, for a big-time Division One SEC football team making a bowl game is not enough.  Making the college football playoffs is the expectation. Unhappy with this year’s record, and with the last few seasons, the university decided it was time to let go of head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Fisher has been with the team since 2017 when he signed a 10-year, $75 million contract with Texas A&M.[1] Coming off a 9-1 season in 2020 the university decided to extend Fisher’s contract through the 2031 season.[2] The new contract in 2021 gave Fisher 10 more years at Texas A&M and $95 million.[3] While at the time a contract extension for Fisher seemed like a great idea, the school is now regretting this decision. Texas A&M is now on the hook for the remainder of Fisher’s contract. Over the next 7 years the university must pay Fisher over $77 million.[4]

Based on Fisher’s contract, the school owes him 25% of his buyout in a lump sum within 60 days of his firing.[5] This equates to about $19.3 million by mid-January 2024.[6] After this period ends, the school must start paying Fisher annual payments until the total amount is paid for.[7] As a result, the school will pay eight payments between 2024 and 2031 with each payment being around $7.2 million.[8]

The athletic director of Texas A&M, Ross Bjork, explained that “Texas A&M Athletics and an independent fundraising organization for the department will be ‘the sole sources of the necessary funds covering these transition costs.’”[9] Additionally, Bjork said that the school “will use unrestricted contributions within the 12th Man Foundation for the first one-time payments and the athletic department will fund the annual payments for the remaining portion by growing our revenues and adjusting our annual operating budget accordingly.”[10]

It is not only the $77 million buyout that people are shocked about. It is the fact that Fisher’s contract did not include any offset provision.[11] This means that Fisher gets his buyout money from Texas A&M no matter what. Even if Fisher gets a new head coaching job at another school, which he surely will, he will still collect his buyout money from Texas A&M.[12] This is unheard of; coaching contracts almost always contain offset language, especially when the buyout is as high as Fisher’s is.[13] With $77 million guaranteed and another head coaching job surely on the horizon, Jimbo Fisher is cashing out big time.

[1] Jimbo Fisher fired by Texas A&M in $75 million move (nypost.com)

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Jimbo Fisher buyout: Why Texas A&M will be paying off dismissed coach’s contract through 2031 – CBSSports.com

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Jimbo Fisher to reportedly receive record $77 million buyout after being relieved of head football coach duties | CNN

[10] Id.

[11] Jimbo Fisher’s buyout with Texas A&M includes 1 crazy detail (larrybrownsports.com)

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

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