Matt Weller’s game-winning extra point against Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl gave Ohio a valuable victory: the first bowl win in school history and the first 10-win season in more than four decades.
But the kick also proved valuable in a different way for football coach Frank Solich, who earned an extra $43,000 in bonuses as a result.
In all, Solich earned $144,500 in bonuses and incentives this season on top of his $330,000 base salary. He’ll pick up another $275,000 as a retention bonus if he stays with the team through the end of 2012.
Solich has the second-highest base salary of any Ohio University employee, and with the bonuses, he might pass OU President Roderick McDavis in total earnings this year.
But McDavis and Director of Athletics Jim Schaus said the football coach has helped the university gain national prominence through appearances on national television and at bowl games.
“Recruiting and retaining effective leaders to build and sustain excellent university programs is an investment in the university’s current and future success,” McDavis said. “Since 2005, Coach Solich has elevated the prominence of Ohio University’s football program, coaching the team to Ohio University’s first conference division titles and the first bowl victory in our history. These achievements contribute to Ohio University’s national prominence and reputation of excellence.”
Besides his base salary, Solich earns $70,000 annually in incentives for making appearances on the Ohio Bobcat Sports Network, for adhering to the shoe and apparel contracts Ohio Athletics has arranged and for his role as associate athletics director for Special Projects.
Additional bonuses total $74,500 and directly correlate with the Bobcats’ on-field performance. He earned $5,000 each for the team’s seventh, eighth and ninth wins, and he picked up another $10,000 when the team reached the 10-win plateau in the bowl game.
The bowl win also entitled Solich to $33,000, equal to 10 percent of his base salary. By winning the Mid-American Conference East Division and playing in the MAC Championship game, he picked up another $16,500, an additional 5 percent of his base salary.
In his original contract, Solich also received a bonus each year that a high percentage of his players graduated. That part of his contract was deleted in 2008 in an addendum that said a “more contemporary measurement” would be used in the future.
“It was just mutual discussion and something the head coach felt… was not necessary,” said Schaus, who was not the athletic director when Solich was hired. “Just his general feeling was that these are some incentives that he was not interested in.
“Obviously, the academic piece of his job is extremely important. Sometimes I think academic performance bonuses are hard to track.”
According to research by USA Today, Solich had the highest pay rate of any MAC head football coach besides possibly Temple, which has an exemption from public records laws. Schaus challenged the data, saying Solich’s contract was “competitive” but not the most lucrative in the conference.
“If we’re going to the MAC Championship on a regular basis, which we are … then we should probably have our head coach compensated toward the top of the league,” he said.
“In the coaching world, just like the faculty positions, you look at what head football coaches at institutions similar to Ohio University are making. A market analysis of salaries is always one measure of how you set salaries when someone comes to Ohio University.”
Schaus said the athletic department’s budget includes what the department believes will be adequate funding for that year’s coaching bonuses. If coaches earn more bonuses than the estimated allotment, additional funding comes from gifts through the Bobcat Club.
Solich was not made available for comment.