OSU makes it clear Fickell is interim coach

Published 1:03 am Friday, October 21, 2011


AP Sports Writer

COLUMBUS — Four and a half months after taking the job, Luke Fickell finally has a contract.

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Ohio State is paying its interim head coach $775,000 for guiding the football program through a season of suspensions, NCAA investigations and looming penalties.

The contract, released by the university on Thursday, makes it very clear that Fickell is not guaranteed a job after the agreement ends Jan. 31, 2012.

“This agreement is renewable solely upon an offer from Ohio State and an acceptance by coach,” the contract stipulates in section 2.0 under Term. “This agreement in no way grants coach a claim to tenure in employment.”

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, who did not immediately return a call requesting comment, has said that Fickell will be a candidate for the permanent job but that the school will do a nationwide search to find its next head coach. Rumors of potential candidates have been circulating ever since 10-year coach Jim Tressel was forced to resign.

Fickell is a former defensive assistant who was elevated to interim coach on May 30. That was the day that Tressel was pressured to resign in the wake of a cash-and-tattoos scandal that has dogged the program since last December.

Fickell’s base salary is $400,000 and he is paid $200,000 for media obligations and $175,000 from Ohio State’s agreement with Nike. Tressel made more than $3.5 million last year.

The Buckeyes (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) are off this week before returning to action at home on Oct. 29 against fourth-ranked and unbeaten Wisconsin.

The contract includes language regarding bonuses and some supplemental compensation. Should the Buckeyes play in a bowl game, Fickell receives one month of base salary ($33,333). If Ohio State wins its conference division and plays in the inaugural Big Ten championship game on Dec. 3, he would get half of his monthly base salary — and would get another half of a month ($16,667) if the Buckeyes were to win it. He would receive two months of base salary ($66,667) if Ohio State plays in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game.

Fickell also receives 12 tickets to each Ohio State home football game and two tickets to each home men’s basketball game. Ohio State also picks up the tab for a family pool club membership and one leased car with insurance. He also can make additional money by working at Ohio State’s summer football camps.

Under the terms of the contract, with wording similar to that in Tressel’s agreements with the university, Fickell can be fired for not reporting potential NCAA violations.

Tressel became aware of several Buckeyes’ involvement with a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner in April of 2010. But contrary to his contract and to NCAA bylaws, he did not disclose that information to his superiors or NCAA compliance officers. As a result, Ohio State played the 2010 season with players who were found to be ineligible.

More than a dozen players have been suspended for a series of NCAA violations, including accepting improper benefits from the tattoo-parlor owner, taking $200 in cash for attending a charity event or getting too much pay for summer jobs with a booster who has since been banned from contact with Buckeyes athletes.

Ohio State is awaiting word from the NCAA regarding its final sanctions. The university has offered to vacate its 12-1 record in 2010, to go on two years of NCAA probation and to return $339,000 in bowl money from last season.

The NCAA could accept those penalties and could also hit Ohio State with a bowl ban or recruiting restrictions. Ohio State went before the NCAA committee on infractions on Aug. 12 and could receive its final sanctions any time through the end of the calendar year.


Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap .