INDIANAPOLIS — The perks of Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm’s contract include a car allowance of $1,250 a month, all net income from his program’s sports camps and up to $20,000 a year of Nike merchandise.
That’s on top of his average annual salary of $300,000 for the length of his 8-year contract, a highest possible performance bonus of $2.52 million and supplemental compensation ranging from $3 million to $5 million each year.
Those are just some of the lucrative caveats in Brohm’s contract that rank it the eighth best of NCAA Division I football head coaches in the nation, according to Daniel Kalish, managing partner with HKM Employment Attorneys in Seattle.
For the past several years, through public records requests, Kalish has collected contracts for head football college coaches.
“Since I’m an employment lawyer, I then analyze the contract, summarize it, provide it and then rank it according to the best contract in terms of salary, duration, payout, golden parachute, extras (and more) from the coach’s perspective,” Kalish says.
Brohm, 50, is part of a top ten list that includes (starting with the best contract in the nation, according to Kalish) Dabo Swinney, Clemson; Nick Saban, Alabama; Steve Sarkisian, Texas; Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma; Ryan Day, Ohio State; Mel Tucker, Michigan State; Kyle Whittingham, Utah; Brohm; Bret Bielema, Illinois; and Scott Frost, Nebraska.
The only other Indiana coach to make the list of 97 is Ball State’s Mike Neu, ranked with the 92nd best contract in America. Kalish made a public records request for Indiana coach Tom Allen’s contract but has not yet received it.
When it comes to annual compensation only, Allen ranks ahead of Brohm, according to USA Today reports from November. Brohm makes $4.8 million compared to Allen’s $4.9 million.
Allen jumped ahead of Brohm in that category in March when, after going 14-7 the past two seasons, he signed a new deal that came with a $1 million raise.
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A subjective list: What matters most?
Brohm “respectfully passed” on an IndyStar request to talk about the rankings through Matt Rector, an associate communications director with Purdue football.
While his record at Purdue, 19-25, may not seem to warrant his lucrative contract, he is not the worst performing coach in the top 10.
Michigan State’s Tucker, ranked with the sixth-best contract went 2-5 in his first season at the school after going 5-7 at Colorado in 2019. Newly-hired Illinois coach Bielema, ranked ninth on the list, was 29-28 in his last college coaching job at Arkansas from 2013-17. And 10th-ranked coaching contract Nebraska’s Frost has a record of 12-20.
The two top contracts belong to coaches with highly successful records, Swinney, 51-5 and Saban, 51-4, since Brohm was hired in 2017. They’ve combined for 5 of the last 6 national championships.
Kalish said he considered seven factors as he ranked the contracts: perks, overall compensation each year, bonus opportunities, length of contract, buy-out provisions if the coach resigns, golden parachute provisions if the coach is fired and duties of the coach for academic performance and off-the-field team issues.
The final list is a subjective one, Kalish concedes, because different people place higher value on different things.
“Does overall compensation matter? Yes, very much so. But it is not everything,” he said. “Some may value overall compensation as the most important, whereas others may find the perks the most important factor.”
Swinney (ranked No. 1), for example, has an average annual pay of $245,000, compared to Brohm’s $300,000. But Swinney’s annual supplemental compensation ranges from $5.5 million to $7.3 million a year during his 10-year contract while Brohm’s ranges from $3 million to $4.5 million over seven years.
More bells and whistles
Brohm came to Purdue in in 2017 from Western Kentucky. As part of his initial contract, Purdue agreed to pay up to $900,000 (in the form of a loan) of the expense Brohm incurred when he terminated his contract with Western Kentucky.
Every year Brohm remains at Purdue, $150,000 of the loan balance is forgiven. He also received a $35,000 moving expense allowance when he came to West Lafayette.
Brohm’s family’s travel to away games is paid by Purdue as part of the contract and he receives a bundle of sports tickets, including eight season tickets to football games, eight suite tickets and 25 tickets for business use.
Brohm also gets two lower arena season tickets for basketball games, two lower arena season tickets for women’s basketball games and two season tickets for volleyball games.
Top-ranking coaches’ perks/records
1. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, 51-5 since 2017: Membership dues at a country club approved by Clemson of up to $10,000 a year and two vehicles that will be replaced at least every 12 months.
2. Alabama’s Nick Saban, 51-4 since 2017: Two cars, 34 tickets to every home game, skybox, country club membership, 25 hours of a private jet for non-business.
3. Texas’ Steve Sarkisian, 46-35 (hasn’t coached since 2015): Two courtesy vehicles, club membership, spouse and children travel to games, one suite for home football games, six tickets to home games for all other sports, 20 (hours/year) use of private plane; university to pay previous employer’s buyout, $250,000 relocation costs.
4. Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, 45-8 since 2017: Vehicle assigned by department, 35 hours annually of private airplane, playing privileges at two local golf courses.
5. Ohio State’s Ryan Day, 23-2 since 2017: Retirement contribution of $1 million from university per year, vehicle stipend of $1,200 a month, 12 lower bowl tickets to Ohio Stadium, five press booth credentials to home games, Ohio Stadium suite for friends and family, two season parking passes, two tickets to home men’s basketball games, recruiting travel on private plane, 50 hours of private plane use for personal travel, golf course membership.
6. Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, 7-12: Course fee courtesy credit for spouse and children, use of two vehicles, country club membership, four seats on the program team plane and two hotel rooms for any post-season football games, in addition to team seats for coach’s spouse and dependent children, use of a private plane for 25 hours annually for personal travel.
7. Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, 30-16 since 2017: Free tuition for children, 50% tuition benefit for grandchildren until death, two automobiles or $1,200 stipend for second auto, country club membership, 75% tuition benefit for college eligible children for attending Utah,28 season tickets, private stadium box for all home games, eight men’s basketball season tickets.
8. Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, 19-25: Family membership in the club, car allowance of $1,250 per month, net income from sports camps, up to $20,000/year of Nike merchandise, eight season tickets to football games and eight suite tickets plus 25 tickets for business use, two lower arena season tickets for basketball games, two lower arena season tickets for women’s basketball games, two season tickets for volleyball games, family travel to away games, $35,000 moving expense allowance, use of Purdue plan for recruiting purposes.
9. Illinois’ Bret Bielema, 29-28 in his last college coaching job at Arkansas: One courtesy vehicle plus one $8,000/year vehicle stipend, moving expenses up to $50,000 reimbursed, family membership at local country club, one suite for home football games, two VIP parking passes near stadium, 20 regular season tickets, 20 tickets for each away football game, four season tickets to basketball games and volleyball games and one VIP parking pass for those games, spouse can travel with coach as needed.
10: Nebraska’s Scott Frost, 12-20: 20 hours of private flight time for personal use, reasonable relocation expenses.
Follow IndyStar sports reporter Dana Benbow on Twitter: @DanaBenbow. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.