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Basketball: A Review & Analysis of Josh Pastner's Contract at Georgia Tech

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Georgia Tech has traditionally not done a great job of handling contracts. How'd they do this time?

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Despite recent highly questionable legislative decisions made at the absurd requests of an in-state football program, a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was fulfilled today after only a few days, as I received a copy of new head basketball coach Josh Pastner's contract. Keep in mind that this is not a fully finalized document, as things like incentive-based bonuses are not explicitly included.

I've embedded the full 7-page document below. Take a look through it, and we'll talk through a couple of the most important aspects.

Contract Length & Salary Schedule

Year Salary
2016-17 $1,600,000
2017-18 $1,700,000
2018-19 $1,800,000
2019-20 $1,900,000
2020-21 $2,000,000
2021-22 $2,200,000

You'll notice that Pastner's initial deal is for 6 years, and that his salary begins at $1.6 million with marginal increases each year. The interesting part of this, to me, is that Pastner's salary is starting out $500,000 higher than what Brian Gregory was being paid as base compensation, which was around $1.1 million. At the end of the contract, his salary will end up just north of a healthy $2 million per year.

Perhaps the most odd part of this? It's a pay cut from his most recent extension signed with Memphis, which was to be worth an average of $2.65 million per year. Pastner's willingness to take a noticeable pay cut speaks both to his desire to get out of his previous position, as well as the value he places on the job at Georgia Tech.

In comparison to other ACC coaches, he should be comfortably in the neighborhood of what some of the top coaches in the conference are being paid, with a few exceptions. Also worth noting: Pastner will begin making over $1 million per year less than former alleged coaching search target Bryce Drew will make at Vanderbilt. In other words, Georgia Tech is saving a lot of money over what they would've owed Drew.

Buyout Schedule

Year Buyout Buyout Amount
2016-17 100% $9,345,000
2017-18 100% $7,745,000
2018-19 100% $6,045,000
2019-20 75% $4,245,000
2020-21 75% $2,820,000
2021-22 60% $1,320,000

A few things should be noted about the table above:

  • Years within the contract run from May 1-April 30.
  • The center column indicates the percentage of that year's salary owed to Pastner if fired before it. These percentages are multiplied by the correlating year's salary, and added for all remaining years.
  • The right-hand column should be interpreted as "total money owed if fired before May 1 of the year in question". It is not to be added all the way down the column -- the addition has already been done for you.

This feels like a reasonably Georgia Tech-favorable structure to Pastner's buyout. Only three years are fully guaranteed, and the amount owed begins to drop off quickly in the final three years of the deal. The 60% number in his final year still results in a reasonably large buyout, but that's the cost of doing business. The bottom line here, anyways, is that as long as Pastner is retained for at least three years, the buyout amount won't be anything particularly crippling. (It will probably take Georgia Tech that long to finish paying off Paul Hewitt, anyways.)

Protective Clauses

Two other things to be noted in this contract:

  • Pastner is fully responsible of paying his buyout owed to Memphis, meaning Georgia Tech does not intend to cover any part of that obligation.
  • Pastner is set to owe Georgia Tech $500,000 if he resigns during the course of this deal, and $750,000 if he resigns prior to April 1, 2019.

The presence of these types of clauses is a good move by Mike Bobinski. They provide the GTAA with protection from potential success ending up in Pastner leaving (which he could still do, but with the GTAA getting something out of it), and they clear Georgia Tech of any responsibility for paying Memphis for past contractual obligations.

How did Georgia Tech do?

For several years now, any questions of why Georgia Tech's athletic department wasn't in the best financial shape could easily be answered by pointing to terrible contractual decisions -- the Paul Hewitt contract top-to-bottom, as well as things like Brian Gregory's hardly-warranted extension. With this contract, though, Mike Bobinski and Georgia Tech have done an excellent job of compensating a coach well (which looks good to others in the business) without putting themselves in danger of being crippled by a buyout. They even managed to get themselves a little bit of protection against Pastner being picked up by someone else before the contract runs out!

This contract feels like a win-win for all involved, and especially for Georgia Tech and its fans. Bravo to Mike Bobinski on a job well done with putting together an attractive (but responsible) contract.