New U of I football coach guaranteed $9M

December 9, 2011 (CHICAGO)

In this Intelligence Report: the terms of a deal that will make Tim Beckman the richest employee on the state payroll.

Beckman just became the richest man in town, if you are counting state employees. Mr. Beckman joins Illinois' payroll under the terms of a multi-million dollar contract to coach the football team at University of Illinois. But that's not the end of the payouts for the state's struggling flagship university just to make a coaching change.

Beckman had to break his contract at University of Toledo, where he'd been working as head coach the past three years. In order to buy out that deal, Toledo will have to be paid $130,000.

Mr. Beckman, introduced Friday at a Champaign news conference, will be paid $1.6 million next year as coach of the Illini. And then in years two through five of his negotiated deal, he will make $1.8 million a year. Total payout: $9 million.

At a university struggling with finances and infrastructure issues, athletic director Mike Thomas today asked where that money will come from:

"It just comes out of our general DIA budget like everything else....and, we have a lot of different sources of revenue when we build out budget whether it's tickets or fundraising or licensing; a number of different areas...just like any other business, we have revenues and we have expenses….at that end of the day it's just all thrown into a pot and that how we pay out bills including Coach Beckman's salary," said Mike Thomas, U. of I. athletic director.

It doesn't end with the new coach's salary. Ron Zook, the coach who was fired after a six game losing streak to end the season, is being paid $2.6 million by the university just to go away. That's Zook's buyout to cover the remaining years of his contract.

The $9 million state employee will have numerous opportunities to make even more money as long as he is Illinois' coach. Under terms of the contract still being worked out, Beckman will be eligible for bonus if the team wins championships and makes bowl game appearances.

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