FAYETTEVILLE — New Arkansas coach Bret Bielema left Wisconsin for a six-year contract worth $3.2 million annually.
Arkansas released the terms of Bielema's letter of agreement with the Razorbacks on Tuesday morning, a day after he was named Arkansas’ coach. The new deal gives Bielema a $600,000 raise from his previous contract at Wisconsin, which paid him $2.6 million annually according to reports.
It also makes him the 10th-highest paid coach in the country, according to adjusted figures from a recent study on coaching salaries by USA Today.
The letter of agreement outlines lucrative buyout terms. Bielema would be owed $12.8 million if he were dismissed during the first three years of the deal. It drops to $9.6 million in 2016, $6.4 million in 2017 and $3.2 million in 2018, the final year.
On the other hand, Bielema would owe the school $3 million if he chooses to leave within the first year of his deal. The buyout drops $500,000 each year through the remainder of the contract. It is $500,000 in the final year of the contract.
Bielema also can earn up to $700,000 more in incentives annually on top of the $3.2 million salary. The incentives include performance bonuses like $350,000 for winning a national title, $300,000 for a title game appearance, $100,000 for an SEC title, and $150,000 for a non-title Bowl Championship Series game.
Arkansas has protected itself from losing Bielema – an Illinois native and Iowa alum — to another Southeastern Conference school. A clause prohibits Bielema from leaving his Arkansas position for another job in the conference. It’s the same clause Arkansas had in the contract for former coach Bobby Petrino.
It also stipulates Arkansas will make arrangements to pay Wisconsin for Bielema’s $1 million buyout. Bielema signed the letter of agreement on Tuesday.
“We actually signed the letter of agreement in the air on the way to Wisconsin,” Long said, referring to the flight from the interview spot in New York City to Madison, Wis., where Bielema told players he was leaving.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau