basketball Edit

Big Red Business: More contract details on Hoiberg and staff

Nebraska basketball has jumped much of the Big Ten Conference in one big-time category that matters -- coaches salaries.


With a few strokes of the pen, Nebraska now boasts the third-highest paid head coach in the conference, the second, fifth and sixth-highest paid assistant basketball coaches,and the conferences second-largest salary pool for the basketball staff.

Under previous head coach Tim Miles, Nebraska’s basketball coaching compensation was middle of the pack at best. Nebraska did not pay top 10 money to any assistants.

Hoiberg’s seven-year, $25 million deal averages out to $3.57 million annually. That would put him behind only Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, who currently earns $4.16 million, and Michigan John Beilein, who’s total paycheck is $3.8 million, based on USA Today data.

And based on his average annual salary, Hoiberg also is now the 11th highest paid men’s basketball coach in the country, according to USA Today data, though it should be noted that rankings will change now that the season is over and athletic directors are evaluating their programs.


Nebraska's basketball coaching staff is now the second-highest paid in the conference.
Nebraska's basketball coaching staff is now the second-highest paid in the conference. (Associated Press)

But perhaps the real example of Nebraska’s desire to become a player on the hardwood is how well the assistants will be paid.

*Hoiberg received a $1 million pool to fill out his coaching staff, which includes three full-time assistants. It was previously about $767,467, or ninth-highest in the conference.

Now, only Ohio State has a larger salary pool for staff-- $1.02 million -- based on last season’s data. After those top two come Illinois ($900,000); Indiana ($890,000); , Michigan ($880,000), Maryland ($825,000); and Michigan State ($822,000).

Bringing up the bottom are Iowa ($700,000); Wisconsin ($660,000); and Purdue ($630,000). Of note, all three teams made the NCAA tournament, with Purdue narrowly missing a trip to the Final Four.

*Matt Abdelmassih earns the biggest paycheck on Hoiberg’s staff. The top-flight recruiter will earn $380,000 annually, with standard performance-based bonuses written into his contract. By contrast, Michael Lewis was the highest paid assistant on Miles staff, earning $256,200.

Who’s the highest paid assistant in the Big Ten? Ohio State’s Ryan Pedon, who pulls down $395,000 annually. Following Abdelmassih are Orlando Antigua of Illinois, at $350,000; and Maryland’s Kevin Broadus, who earns $327,000.

It’s unclear how much of a raise Abdelmassih received to leave St. John’s University for the Nebraska job. His St. John’s pay was unavailable. When Abdelmassih was on Hoiberg’s staff at Iowa State, he had a yearly base salary of $220,000 as of 2015. Clearly, he’s a salary fast-tracker.

Doc Sadler, the former Nebraska head basketball coach, agreed to a $320,000 contract, which makes him the fifth highest assistant in the conference. He also took a $30,000 pay cut to return to Nebraska after serving as head coach of Southern Mississippi in Conference USA.

Armon Gates -- the only holder from MIles’ staff -- received a $44,000 raise, boosting his pay to $300,000. He is tied with four or five other assistant coaches for sixth place on the conference salary chart. Gates’ contract was amended to note the pay bump, but other terms did not changes, including the April 2020 expiration, according to the athletic department.

Finally, Bobby Lutz will receive $150,000 to become Hoiberg’s special assistant. His salary from coaching in the NBA G league was not available. His $150,000 pay is outside the salary pool negotiated by athletic director Bill Moos.

“I am excited with the staff we have put together,” Hoiberg said in a statement. “I wanted to put together an experienced staff and saw how important that was in our past success. We wanted to get the right mix of coaches who can go out and recruit the players we need to be successful and also do a good job of teaching on the floor.”

The Chicago Bulls will still pay Hoiberg $2.5 million next season, matching what Nebraska will pay.
The Chicago Bulls will still pay Hoiberg $2.5 million next season, matching what Nebraska will pay. (Associated Press)

Two paychecks for Fred 

At first glance, it would appear that Hoiberg took a pay cut with the Nebraska job.

After all, he’ll earn $2.5 million in the first year or his Nebraska deal, compared to his five-year, $25 million contract when he served as the Chicago Bulls’ head coach.

However, Chicago is still on the hook to pay their former head coach $2.5 million in the coming season, although they off-loaded $2.5 million of Hoiberg’s annual salary when he took the Nebraska job.

Add it all up, and Hoiberg will draw $5 million from his two paychecks this coming season.

As previously reported, the rest of Hoiberg’s compensation package at Nebraska are as follows, based on a memorandum of understanding he signed with the athletic department:

*Hoiberg will make $3 million in 2020-2021, and $3.5 million from 2021 to 2026. He’ll also earn bonuses of $1 million should he remain in Lincoln through July 1, 2020; $500,000 if he’s here to March 31, 2024; and another $500,000 should he stay to March 31, 2025.

*His contract includes hefty buyout clauses should he leave for another college or NBA job. If the Lincoln native, who’s grandfather Jerry Bush coached Nebraska basketball for nine years, goes to another school, his buyout would be $11.5 million in year one. That drops to $10.25 million in year two; $8.75 million in year three; $7 million in year four; and $5.25 million in year 5. There are no buyout clauses in years six or seven.

*If Hoiberg returns to the NBA or takes a non-coaching basketball position, his buyouts would be $2.5 million in year one; $2 million in year two; $1.5 million in year three; $500,000 in year four; and $250,000 in year five; with no repayment clauses in years six or seven.

*Hoiberg’s contract is also loaded with the typical performance bonuses, which can add up to a lot of money.. A Big Ten regular-season/tournament title would earn him $100,000, and an NCAA Tournament berth would pay $150,000.

Should Nebraska make the Big Dance, Hoiberg would earn added bonuses of: $30,000 for one win; $40,000 for reaching the Sweet 16; $55,000 for making the Elite Eight; $75,000 for going to the Final Four; and $300,000 for a national championship.

While Hoiberg’s salary puts him in the upper tier in the conference, that ranking is fluid. Minnesota, for example, earlier this month rewarded head coach Richard Pitino with a contract extension at an average salary of $2.4 million. He had been earning $2.2 million.

Before the start of the season, Purdue boosted head coach Matt Painter’s salary to $2.8 million from $2.5 million. He had been the eighth highest-paid head coach in the conference; now he has moved up a notch or two.

Painter also received bonuses of about $450,000 for the Boilermakers’ run in the NCAA tournament.

Hoiberg and his family will receive 10 lower bowl season basketball tickets and six season football tickets.
Hoiberg and his family will receive 10 lower bowl season basketball tickets and six season football tickets. (Nate Clouse)

Fred's fringes 

When it comes to fringe benefits, Hoiberg has the standard plate. The benefits generally will be reported as income to him at its fair market value, according to the contract.

The biggies:

*He receives 20 hours of flight time on a private, non-commercial jet for personal travel annually.

*The university will pay for travel expenses for his wife and children to a minimum of eight regular-season road games. The university will also pick up the coach’s travel expenses to NCAA tournament games.

*Hoiberg will receive 10 complimentary basketball season tickets in the lower level of Pinnacle Bank Arena, and six football season tickets.

At $380,000, NU assistant Matt Abdelmassih will be the second highest paid assistant in the Big Ten based on last year's salary data.
At $380,000, NU assistant Matt Abdelmassih will be the second highest paid assistant in the Big Ten based on last year's salary data. (Nate Clouse)

Dollars for assistants 

What’s the going rate for an assistant basketball coach in the Power Five conferences?

Try $245,387, according to a survey compiled by AthleticDirector U, Spencer Fane, and USA Today. The research looked at contracts for 195 assistant coaches, based on 2016-2017 data.

In the Big Ten, the average assistant coach earned $232,508. That was the lowest among the Power Five conferences. But under Hoiberg, all the assistants will be compensated better than the average.

ACC assistants earned the most, at $267,129, followed by the SEC at $252,710, The PAC-12, at $239,653, and the Big 12, at $238,229.

Kentucky had the highest-paid pool of assistants at $1.687 million, or $562,333 per coach. The Wildcats were followed by Louisville and North Carolina State, according to the report.

On the low end, Mississippi’s salary pool amounted to $463,000, or $154,333 per assistant. Close behind were Clemson and Missouri.

The highest paid assistants?

At the top is Kentucky’s Kenny Payne, who earned more than $800,000, based on a 2017 ranking. In fact, three of the ten highest paid assistants sit on Kentucky’s bench.

No coaches from the Big Ten or Big 12 conferences made this list.

As the report notes, the highest paid assistant coaches are “better compensated than some head coaches at schools outside of the major conference structure.”

Even within the top 10 hierarchy, there is a great disparity in compensation. Payne’s payload was twice as large as the coach at the bottom of the list, Melvin Watkins of Arkansas. “This proves that even within the major conference structure, the resources that various schools devote toward their men’s basketball programs can vary greatly,” the report said.

Top pay for assistants also doesn’t necessarily translate to on-court success. Arkansas, for example, failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Two years ago, three of the coaches in the top 10 worked for programs that failed to qualify for the tournament.


Steve Rosen covers the business or sports for HuskerOnline.com. Questions, comments, story ideas? Reach Steve at sbrosen1030@gmail.com.