Is Kansas willing to pay next AD seven-figure salary?
Is the University of Kansas willing to pay its athletic director $1 million a year?
If so, then it’s worth starting at the top to see if the superstars of the AD field might be interested in taking on the challenge of turning KU into more than a basketball school. If not, don’t bother because that’s how much money it would take simply to engage one of the heavyweights in the field in a serious conversation.
It might take more than that to land the big fish, but a million would be a nice starting point.
For the purposes of illustrating what it might take to pique the interest of an A-list AD, let’s look at the contract details of Clemson’s Dan Radakovich, published in the Post and Courier on Nov. 22, 2016.
That’s when Radakovich signed a six-year, $4.854 million contract extension through 2021-22.
He also will receive retention bonuses of $200,000 if still on the job Aug. 15, 2019, and $225,000 on Aug. 15, 2021.
Plus, he receives a $30,000 bonus if the school participates in the College Football Playoff and $20,00 if it earns a spot in the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament.
His salary increases $25,000 per year, which would place the figure at $796,500 for this coming school year and $871,500 in the final year of the deal, plus incentives.
If Radakovich, 59, leaves Clemson for another school, the buyout is a mere $125,000. Considering he would be walking way from those retention bonuses amounting to $400,000, and incentives, that means in order for Radakovich to break even financially, his deal elsewhere would have be about $1 million a year.
Why make a lateral move?
Assuming he would even have an interest in leaving a machine that he has up and running so smoothly for a steep challenge, it would probably take somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2-to-$1.5 million a year to lure him from Clemson, S.C. to Lawrence.
Since Clemson likely would make a counter offer to keep him, the figure probably moves closer to $1.5 million.
So the question then becomes is Kansas willing to pay $1.5 million for its next AD?
What, other than a pay raise, might interest Radakovich in leaving the second-hottest football juggernaut (behind only Alabama) in the country for the worst power-five program?
He had success heading renovation projects for basketball arenas and football stadiums.Maybe he enjoys doing that? No, that can’t be it. Who enjoys asking for money?
Radakovich, who took the Clemson job in 2012, hasn’t hired a football coach since 2008, when he wooed Paul Johnson from Navy to Georgia Tech.
Maybe he thinks he works with the next great college football head coach and wants to see what he can do because he knows he’ll never get a chance to do so at Clemson, where Dabo Swinney, 48, might still be coaching in 20 years.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables makes $1.8 million a year, is a native of Salina and played for and graduated from Kansas State.
Venables, 47, worked at his alma mater under Bill Snyder for six years and at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops for eight years. He left his DC position at OU when Mike Stoops returned to join his brother’s staff in 2012.
Venables inherited a defense that ranked 81st in the nation in points allowed. The rank of his six Clemson defenses, starting in 2012: 46, 24, 3, 24, 10, 2.
KU’s next AD won’t necessarily have an obvious connection to KU’s football coach in 2019, in the event David Beaty does not turn around the program this coming season and a change is made.
Still, as soon as the AD is hired, the guessing game as to the next football coach will come into clearer focus.
Someone of Venables’ ilk would demand somewhere in the range of $2.5-to-$3 million to leave the secure, exciting job he now fills.
How much KU is willing to spend on an athletic director will be the first indication of how much it will pony up for the next football coach.
These are potentially exciting times for Kansas Athletics. The negative momentum, at least for the moment, has shifted into neutral, which counts as progress.