On March 31, 2011, while speaking to the media at the Final Four in Houston, NCAA President Mark Emmert promised the public that he would not hesitate to implement “sufficient deterrents” to prevent schools from knowingly breaking NCAA rules.
“If our penalties and processes aren’t providing sufficient deterrents, then I need to sit down with the board of Division I and others and fix that and make sure that our penalty structure and our enforcement processes serve as a deterrent so people conduct themselves with integrity and forthrightness.”
Monday Auburn released details of Gene Chizik’s new contract extension.
Besides the length of the deal and an increase in compensation, there were no notable changes to the original Chizik contract consumated between the parties in 2008.
Paragraph 13 (d) of Chizik’s 2008 contract included a clause that would relieve Auburn from any financial obligation to the coach if the school’s football program was subject to NCAA investigation. From the 2008 contract Chizik signed:
In the event an investigation is instituted by Auburn, the SEC or the NCAA into alleged major rules violations or significant or repetitive violations involving Coach and/or the football program, during the pendency of the investigation, University shall have the right, after written notice to Coach, to suspend payment of any amount owed to Coach under Paragraph 15 or 16.
As noted by Jon Soloman of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS, of Chizik’s $3.5 million salary, $3 million comes from personal appearances, endorsements and media rights - which are detailed in Paragraph 15 and 16 of the coach’s contract.
For Chizik’s new agreement with the school, Paragraph 13 (d) was completely deleted and replaced with this clause:
Coach agrees he will comply with Southeastern Conference Rules and be bound by and comply with the enforcement, penalty, and other disciplinary provisions and procedures of the NCAA and of the Southeastern Conference, including but not limited to the provisions of Article 4 of the Southeastern Conference Constitution and the Southeastern Conference Bylaw 19.8.
The new clause is a boiler plate statement designed to keep up appearances while completely all Chizik accountability to NCAA rules violations.
Three months earlier, NCAA President Emmert said at the Final Four press conference:
“We cannot have coaches, administrators, parents or student-athletes sitting out there deciding, ‘Is this worth the risk? If I conduct myself in this fashion, and if I get caught, it’s still worth the risk.’ We don’t want those kind of cost benefit analyses going on.”
With Auburn recently bankrupting Chizik’s contractual obligation to NCAA rules, it’s impossible to come to any other conclusion than NCAA President Emmert’s public proclamations mean nothing to at least one NCAA member institution.
Perhaps Auburn’s attitude has something to do with Emmert confirming a NCAA violation committed by Cecil Newton, then clearing Cam Newton’s route to the two highest college football honors an NCAA student-athlete can attain.
On March 31, Emmert also said:
We have to hold everybody in the enterprise accountable, whether they’re administrators, coaches, ADs, players or parents, anybody involved. Coaches are no different than anyone else in that process.
Coaches in collegiate sport have a different role than coaches in professional sport. Again, by definition these are student-athletes. So a coach is not just a coach, they’re also a mentor and a teacher. That brings with it responsibilities that are different than being an NBA coach or an NFL coach.
On Jan. 30, 2011, Kevin Scarbinsky of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS profiled Auburn Associate Athletic Director Tim Jackson.
Excerpt from the profile:
In a rare interview in his office Thursday, Jackson said the leadership of Auburn football breaks down like that of an NFL franchise. “Jay Jacobs is the owner. Gene’s the head coach. I’m the general manager.”
Chizik said their management structure “is probably unique in college football. This may not work for everybody else. It works for us. Everybody is on the same page.”
It works because Chizik and Jackson have a unique bond and level of trust for a coach and administrator, especially at Auburn, where the last two head coaches, Terry Bowden and Tommy Tuberville, seemed at constant odds with “the suits.”
As I noted here on Jan. 30, while Jackson’s role as “general manager” of the Auburn football team is detailed in the News profile, his primary job at Auburn goes went unmentioned.
Jackson is the executive director of the private fundraising arm for Auburn Athletics called “Tigers Unlimited.”
Jackson controls the purse strings of the multi-million organization, which funds much of the operation of the Auburn Athletic Department and pays the majority of Chizik’s salary.
Before Jackson took over, current Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs was entrusted with the same role.