Thursday, November 02, 2006

The time that Spears got a five-year deal

GSU hopes to make Spears among top
Contract would put coach No. 2 in conference
February 25, 2005

By Nick Deriso
GRAMBLING - The state board that oversees Grambling State will evaluate a new contract today for football coach Melvin Spears that guarantees him five seasons - and could make him the second-highest paid coach in his conference.

"We will present him (today) to the board," said GSU athletics director Willie Jeffries. "It's a multi-year deal."

Spears was named to replace former coach Doug Williams in January, after serving a season as interim coach. He was victorious in three of the last four games in 2004, finishing with a 6-5 year.

The proposed deal is expected to exceed the reported $131,000 Spears made last season, based on a confirmed $115,000 interim salary and an additional incentive deal for winning the year-ending Bayou Classic - GSU's signature rivalry game, which aired nationally on NBC.

Spears' contract was on the agenda for Thursday's meeting of the Joint Athletic and Audit Committee of the University of Louisiana System board. The matter is now up for approval by the full board today.

Spears, who met with the committee at 3 p.m. Thursday, confirmed that the school would like to get the nod for a pay scale of $150,000.

Added incentives in Spears' agreement are reportedly similar to the one the ULS unananimously approved in 2002 for Williams, who resigned two seasons later to take an NFL job.

Williams' last contract - which called for $125,000 per season in base salary - stipulated $15,000 in supplemental compensation if Williams reached incentives such as winning the conference title, the Bayou Classic and eight or more games in a season; as well as earning SWAC or black college Coach of the Year honors.

Williams was also to be given a car or an allowance of $500 per month, something Spears confirmed is in the new proposal. All supplemental compensation in that 2002 deal was to be provided by the Grambling University National Alumni Association.

Negotiating the contract, Spears said, "didn't take very long. I take my hat off to (GSU President) Dr. (Horace) Judson and Coach Jeffries for making the process really easy for me. We are all on the same page."

Spears had the interim tag lifted two months after beating Pete Richardson's Southern Jaguars to end the year. Richardson remains the highest-paid coach in Division I-AA - and the highest-paid coach ever for a historically black college.

A December contract renewal pays him $200,000 per year, plus incentives worth up to $40,000, for the next three seasons. That deal wasn't yet signed when Richardson told The News-Star earlier that month that he would consider applying for the GSU job. As with the current prosposal for Spears, Richardson's incentives are based on awards and championships.

Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones also got a new deal after considering a job at GSU. In fact, he received a two-year contract extension a week after interviewing. But his contract, good through 2008, has a base salary of $112,500 - less than Spears made as interim. Incentive clauses could push Jones past $150,000, however.

Meanwhile, Alabama State's Charlie Coe, who won the conference title game over Richardson a year after taking over the program, signed a four-year deal with a base salary of $125,000 last September. He can also escalate his take-home pay with incentives.

Jackson State coach James Bell, who is 6-17 in the SWAC, is entering the final year of a three-season deal with a base pay of $85,000.

A look at the locals

New Grambling State coach Melvin Spears' proposed five-year contract - which could be for as much as $150,000 - would also make him the second-highest paid local coach.

The deal with Louisiana Tech's Jack Bicknell reportedly includes a base salary of $150,000 a season, as well as $50,000 per year for a television show.

Meanwhile, Louisiana-Monroe's unique contract with Charlie Weatherbie pays him just $75,000. ULM was able to strike that bargain because Weatherbie was still under contract to Navy through the end of 2006.

The school provides a residence for Weatherbie in the Northpoint Plantation neighborhood - and also includes bonuses if he wins the Sun Belt or a bowl game, and if actual average attendance exceeds 15,000.

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Board OKs contract for GSU's Spears
February 26, 2005

By Nick Deriso
The board that oversees Grambling State approved a five-year contract for new football coach Melvin Spears on Friday - though the chairman said some questioned how much he'll be paid.

Spears will have a base salary of $150,000, making him the second-best paid coach in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Southern's Pete Richardson, who has won five SWAC titles, recently signed a $200,000 deal.

If Spears wins seven games per season, he will also automatically receive a $6,000-per-year raise, according to the contract. If he wins fewer than seven games, a raise is at the discretion of the athletics director.

"There were some obvious questions about the contract, and its comparison with the other coaches in Grambling's conference," said Mike Woods, who chairs the supervising University of Louisiana System board. "At the same time, in light of what happened with Doug Williams, we thought it was important to get the salary right.

"Athletics is important at any institution, but that's particularly true at Grambling."

Williams, who led GSU to three consecutive conference titles beginning in 2000, left for a job in the NFL early in 2004 after a multifaceted request for several athletics-related amenities was ignored. A new president and AD have since taken over.

Spears was named Williams' interim replacement days after Williams left. The interim tag was removed in January of this year.

Spears' new contract addresses at least one of Williams' concerns: Ten percent of all revenues from the team's neutral-site games, commonly referred to as "classics," are now to be placed in the football budget. That does not include the Bayou Classic.

"I feel really honored and blessed just to have the opportunity," said Spears, who had a base salary of $115,000 as an interim last season. "To get all of your I's dotted and T's crossed means we can get down to football. I'm ready to go."

Added incentives include winning a conference title ($7,500), being named national Black College Champion ($5,000), winning eight or more games ($5,000), a Top 10 ranking ($3,000), and having 35 or more honor-roll players or at least a 50-percent graduation rate ($5,000).

"If you produce, you put more people in the stands," said Woods, who owns an oil and gas business in Shreveport. "As a businessman, I like that carrot. But remember, graduation rates are in there, too. It's not just about athletics."

Spears echoed Woods' focus in comments he made to the board before his contract was approved.

"One thing I wanted to stress was that I understood my task," Spears said. "We have to win football games, but my major objective is to get these players ready for corporate America. Less than 1 percent of them will get to play in the NFL."

All supplemental compensation in that 2002 deal for Williams was to be provided by the Grambling University National Alumni Association. Spears' contract, however, is guaranteed "beyond the base year to the extent that net proceeds from the Bayou Classic are available."

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