After a couple of days of back and forth, and will he or won’t he, it appears Florida has gotten its man.
Chris Low of ESPN.com tweeted Thursday morning that “[t]he buyout issues have been resolved, and Florida is expected to announce Jim McElwain as its coach later today.” At issue was the $7.5 million buyout in McElwain’s Colorado State contract, a number that only CSU president Tony Frank had the power to lower. Whether that number was negotiated down — there was speculation that UF was offering to play a game at CSU to help offset the buyout — is unknown.
After McElwain had been identified as the program’s top target, UF officials had flown to Fort Collins Tuesday, at which point McElwain had agreed to become the next Gators head coach pending the settlement of the buyout issues. Those same officials flew back to Gainesville Wednesday with no replacement for Will Muschamp as Frank continued to balk at lowering the buyout number.
Reports surfaced late Wednesday night that UF was “pessimistic” that a deal could get done without the buyout being reduced. The $7.5 million wasn’t the issue, per se, but rather all of the other financial commitments for which the athletic department is responsible that left the university hedging on footing the cost of bringing in McElwain.
The Gators already are on the hook for about $8 million owed to Muschamp and his staff, and they have roughly $87 million in on-campus projects underway. And of that $87 million, the athletic association has raised around $60 million.
Additionally, athletic director Jeremy Foley went into his meeting with McElwain with the understanding that “there were provisions in McElwain’s contract that would allow him to leave for a lower buyout.”
McElwain’s contract states that “in the case or event of extenuating circumstances the University’s President shall have the discretion, but not the obligation, to reduce in whole or in part McElwain’s buyout obligation to pay [the buyout to CSU]. McElwain shall have the right to request that the Parties engage in a good faith discussion of such Liquidated Damages amount prior to McElwain providing formal notice to the University of his decision to terminate this Agreement without cause, and in such event the University agrees to engage in such discussion, although the University has no obligation to reduce in whole or in part McElwain’s obligation to pay Liquidated Damages.”
While McElwain is technically responsible for paying the buyout, universities, normally without exception in this day and age, absorb that cost through various means.
The manner in which McElwain left, however, isn’t sitting well with at least one of his now-former players.
So our coach couldn't tell us he was leaving. We have to find out through ESPN and the news. #DoWhatsRight huh?
— Brett Jordan (@wholeteambuck) December 4, 2014
UPDATED 11:24 p.m. ET: Florida announced via Twitter that Jim McElwain has indeed been named as its new head football coach. A press conference will be held Saturday to introduce the now-former Colorado State coach.
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) December 4, 2014