The University of Minnesota athletic department won’t pay one penny in a buyout to former men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino, according to the separation agreement obtained by the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Wednesday, April 7.
Pitino’s contract called for a $1.75 million buyout if he was fired before April 30, but a clause called for that to cease when Pitino found similar employment.
After Pitino was fired at Minnesota on March 15, he was hired to be the New Mexico’s head coach the next day.
“The University will not pay any portion of the termination fee described in Section 3.2 (or Section 3.6) of the Coach’s employment agreement,” the document said. The Star Tribune first reported the buyout figure on Wednesday.
Pitino’s contract with the University had called for a first payment and then reoccurring payments until the end of the deal in 2024, meaning it wasn’t clear at the time of the firing if Minnesota would be on the hook for a portion of that $1.75 million.
Gophers AD Mark Coyle negotiated down Pitino’s buyout when he gave him a contract extension after he won his only NCAA Tournament game in 2019.
The Gophers will pay Pitino a one-time sum of $125,000 for “academic incentive bonuses.” The document said that would be made “because University records show the Team is expected to achieve academic milestones referenced in the agreement and that this occurred under Coach’s leadership and direction.”
The Gophers are facing an estimated $45 million to $60 million budget shortfall from the coronavirus pandemic. Pitino quickly finding another job keeps the University from adding his buyout as another department expense.
The Gophers hired Ben Johnson on a five-year term at $1.95 million a year on March 22 to replace Pitino as head basketball coach. His contract still needs Board of Regent approval.
Pitino’s base salary at Minnesota was $2 million, plus incentives. Pitino will be paid approximately $775,000 per year at New Mexico.