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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies lure Fisher away from FSU with historic, lucrative deal

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Together, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, Board of Regents Chairman Charles W. Schwartz, Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young and Athletic Director Scott Woodward worked together to sign the Aggies’ new head football coach, Jimbo Fisher, to a record contract. 

As Charles W. Schwartz, Chairman of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, officially approved Jimbo Fisher’s contract Monday morning, the Aggies agreed to a deal never before seen in college athletics.
Fisher’s fully-guaranteed contract of $7.5 million per year over 10 seasons is the largest collective contract in college football history, a hefty price that comes with poaching such a prominent coach.
“What would it cost to move any of these coaches from their position to another position,” Schwarz said. “The answer is pretty clear and I think our Board concluded after thorough discussion that it was going to take premium over existing contracts to move a coach of Coach Fisher’s quality.”
Nervousness was something President Michael K. Young said he felt throughout the entire process, as he does with any hire. Young also made clear he wanted to ensure this financial commitment was one that would allow A&M to excel in football.
“None of this is state money, none of this is tuition money, but nonetheless, still a real responsibility to ensure that we’re spending it in a place that really brings the kind of excellence to this institution that the institution deserves,” Young said.
Schwartz said A&M’s ability to pay Fisher’s entire contract without the assistance of state funds is a testament to the investments made by outside donors to the university’s sports programs.
“Our athletic department at Texas A&M University is one of the very small number of departments that are self-sustaining,” Schwartz said. “Not only does it pay for the cost of our football program, it pays for the cost of all our athletic programs and no state money goes to that.”
Despite being longtime friends, A&M Athletic Direcor Scott Woodward said he had sleepless nights while trying to bring in Fisher, who was his top target in the selection process.
“It’s always difficult to get a quality coach who’s at a very stable place is a heavy lift.,” Woodward said. “It takes so much and to have such strong backing from a president, a chancellor and a Board of Regents who just want excellence, and when you have that going for you, you’re at an advantage.”
Fisher said A&M’s historic offer was more about the athletic administration’s responsibility to players fielding success on the gridiron rather than giving him a lucrative deal.
“It’s about the commitment to excellence and the student athletes and having the chance to achieve something great,” Fisher said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. It’s not about that offer, it’s about the offer which they’re committing to these student athletes to be developed and I want to be a part of that.”
Regents first discussed Fisher’s contract in a special executive meeting last Thursday that lasted over two and a half hours as members of the board vetted its terms and conditions.
“We went through every jot and tickle on the contract and we discussed thoroughly all the provisions of the contract, the ramifications and the market in college athletics,” Schwartz said.
Before coming to a consensus on Fisher’s deal, Schwartz said the Board analyzed data from contracts of nine other prominent coaches, including Alabama’s Nick Saban.
“It’s not necessarily an apples to apples comparison when you look at the fully-guaranteed basis,” Schwartz said. “But we reached a conclusion that this was in line with what other coaches of national prominence.”
This is not the first time A&M has broke the bank to hire a new head football coach. According to an article in The New York Times published on January 20, 1982, Jackie Sherrill signed a six-year deal with A&M worth $1.7 million, which made him the nation’s highest paid university employee at the time.
Young laughed when asked if a college coach would ever be paid $100 million, but Schwartz added the cost of top-tier coaches has shot up exceptionally.
“The fact is that it’s a lot of money and the fact is that coaches’ salaries in the United States have gone up in real terms,” Schwartz said. “By that, I mean it has far exceeded inflation.”

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