Here are the terms of new Southern Miss head coach Will Hall's contract. Will coaching salaries be unaffected by the pandemic?

Hall will earn 60 percent more in base salary than former Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson

After Southern Miss announced a “transition of leadership” for its football program on Labor Day, which kicked off the 2020-21 coaching carousel with interim head coach Scotty Walden replacing former head coach Jay Hopson, one Southern Miss alum wrote to members of the university’s athletic department, “I think none of us are under the delusion that we can reach the level we want to at the current salary level.”

According to USA TODAY’s coaches’ salary database, Hopson was scheduled to earn $500,000 this year, which was the lowest salary in Conference USA by $200,000, and now his successor, former Tulane offensive coordinator Will Hall, will earn $800,000 annually in base compensation, according to a copy of the term sheet that was obtained by Out of Bounds.

While a 60-percent pay increase is more feasible when the starting point is half a million dollars, rather than, say, $5 million, Hall’s term sheet could be the first sign that coaches’ contracts signed during the pandemic may not result in the market for head coaching salaries being reset, even if only temporarily.

Former South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp was scheduled to earn $4.6 million this season prior to pandemic-related reductions, according to USA TODAY’s database, and the tenuous tenures of Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($8.05 million before reductions) and Texas’s Tom Herman ($6 million before reductions) could result in at least one of two of the highest-paid positions in the sport opening this season.

If either of those jobs come open, and if filled by a coach who commands a high seven-figure salary, that’s when we’ll have a better understanding of the pandemic’s effects on college football coaching salaries – if there’s any effect at all.

Among the FBS coaches for whom USA TODAY obtained current salary information (and while ignoring any potential pandemic-related salary reductions), only six coaches were scheduled to earn less than Hopson this season. Hall’s base salary will now put Southern Miss on par with the scheduled, pre-pandemic salaries of the head coaches at Texas State, UTSA, Western Kentucky and Western Michigan.

The term sheet states that Hall will receive a four-year contract that runs through Dec. 31, 2024 and he will receive an automatic one-year extension on March 1, 2022, unless either party gives a written notice otherwise by Feb. 28, 2022.

Hall’s base salary will remain at $800,000 for all four years of the deal and he will have a total salary pool of $2.1 million for his assistants and off-the-field support staff.

He’ll have a performance-based incentive structure included in his contract, although there weren’t any specific terms listed on the term sheet.

If Hopson terminates his contract with Southern Miss without cause and accepts a coaching position at the college or NFL level, he’ll owe the university the following:

  • Hire date through the start of his second season: $1.5 million

  • Start of his second season through the start of his third season: $1 million

  • Start of his third season through the start of his fourth season: $500,000

If Southern Miss fires Hall without cause before the end of his contract, he’ll receive 100 percent of his remaining salary as if his contract had expired naturally. Hall would receive equal, monthly installments, rather than a lump sum, and his buyout would be offset by the amount earned during the contract period from his next employer.

Hall agreed to make “reasonable and diligent efforts” to find new employment and to obtain a fair-market salary if he’s fired without cause.

His final contract is subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning of the State of Mississippi.


Recap of the last newsletter

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“Travel model until we can’t,” Barry Collier wrote.

“Agree,” Mark Jackson added. “Monitor the state of the country in January/February.”

If the Big East pursues a bubble model that isn’t based around one or more small, regional, on-campus bubbles, like Collier preferred, then Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, is within the conference’s geographical footprint and it could potentially be a viable option.

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