Impossible buyout? Not according to the contract


Former UH beat writer Sam Khan, now at The Athletic as their ‘Texpert,’ published an article on Thursday on Houston’s readiness for the Big 12. It’s a good read.

As Khan relates it, Holgorsen brought up a benign ESPN piece that said his seat is one “to keep an eye on” and that he “soon must deliver better results.” Hardly controversial.

From one side of his mouth, Dana says that yes, UH Football must be better than last year (“I need to coach better,” he said after an embarrassing home loss to Tulsa). Out of the other side of his mouth, he pushes the program’s 20 wins and two bowl wins, failing to mention the weakness of the schedules that produced those wins (over 11-3 UTSA, 9-4 SMU, two 6-7 bowl teams, Rice twice, two 7-6 Memphis teams, two 4-8 Navy teams, two 3-9 Temple teams, 1-11 and 2-10 USF teams, two 8-5 ECU teams, 7-6 Tulsa, 2-10 Tulane, 1-11 UConn, and an FCS team).

But Dana continued with a baffling quote that almost seems impossible to believe.

“We won 20 games in two years,” Holgorsen said. “We won bowl games in back-to-back years. I have five years on my contract with a f—ing impossible buyout. … So there ain’t no f—ing hot seat in my mind. There just ain’t.”

A f-ing impossible buyout.

The buyout is not great, from UH’s point of view, and the school erred when it agreed to so many guaranteed years based on one good season.

That said, it’s not a f-ing impossible buyout.

Holgorsen’s total compensation from January of this year through the end of his contract (December 31, 2027) is $22,500,000 – an average of $4,500,000 per year. In terms of a buyout, he is owed 100% of his salary/non-salary compensation in 2023, 2024, and 2025 and then 60% of the final two years. If he were to be let go at the end of the 2023 season (before December 1, 2023), he would be owed $14,838,000.

But that buyout is not and has never been a lump sum payout. The University pays Dana monthly and, per his contract, has the right to pay a buyout monthly, too. The following is from his contract, received after a Texas Public Information Act request:

from Dana Holgorsen’s original contract

Holgorsen had his contract renegotiated in early 2022. The liquidated damages amount changed but not the mechanism for the payments:

from Dana’s extended contract

This is not Texas A&M firing Kevin Sumlin and having to pay his full lumpsum buyout within 60 days. UH Athletics contracts specify that buyouts are paid monthly, in the same manner that the employee’s contract was paid. It’s one of the smartest things UH does, frankly. They do not saddle themselves with impossible f-ing buyouts.

If he were terminated immediately after the 2023 season, Dana’s average payment would be about $303,000 per month. Tough to swallow but hardly f-ing impossible.