By JOE SCALZO
Every day, as Youngstown State football coach Eric Wolford walks to his Stambaugh Stadium office, he passes by the Penguins’ four I-AA national championship trophies.
He’s admitted they serve as an incentive to succeed. YSU made sure he had others.
Wolford can earn a $20,000 bonus for winning a national championship, one of several perks in the five-year contract he signed soon after being hired in December.
Wolford, an Ursuline High graduate, earns a base salary of $200,000 each season and is eligible for annual raises.
He also receives the same benefits provided to the school’s professional/administrative employees in areas such as health insurance, vacation, sick leave, holidays, moving expenses and reimbursement of business expenses.
Additionally, Wolford earns $50,000 each year for “marketing income,” which includes things like TV and radio shows, sponsorships and speaking engagements. Additionally, YSU provides Wolford a car (worth about $400 per month) and membership in a local country club.
The $250,000 figure is similar to what he made as an assistant coach at South Carolina last season. Had Wolford stayed on with the Gamecocks, he likely would have made more than he does at YSU.
Former Penguins coach Jon Heacock made about $137,000 in salary and marketing income. Outgoing YSU president Dr. David Sweet made about $308,000 in salary and car and housing allowances this school year while incoming president Dr. Cynthia Anderson will make $350,000 in base salary this year before factoring in other perks.
Wolford’s contract can’t compare with a top Football Bowl Subdivision (I-A) coach, it’s a generous deal for someone at the Football Championship Subdivision level. And he can make several thousand more dollars if the Penguins are successful on the field and in the classroom.
Those incentives include:
A $3,000 bonus for each year the Penguins win the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
A $3,000 bonus for each YSU playoff game.
A $12,000 bonus if the Penguins earn an Academic Progress Rate score of 925 or greater.
The APR, which was established by the NCAA, measures eligibility and retention. A perfect score is 1000 — which means that everyone on the team stayed eligible — and was achieved by two YSU men’s teams in 2008-09: basketball and golf. The football team scored a 945.
A score of 925 is equivalent to a 50 percent graduation rate. NCAA teams that fail to reach this mark can lose scholarships.
The perks/incentives aren’t unusual for a college coach. Former YSU coach Jim Tressel, who coaches at Ohio State, can earn as much as $300,000 per year based on the team’s academic success. He also gets a car, a golf club membership, 40 tickets to each game and 20 hours of personal use of a private jet.
Tressel is the fifth-highest paid coach in the NCAA at $3.7 million per year. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, a Mooney High graduate, is first at $4.3 million per year.
If Wolford leaves for another college or pro coaching job in 2010 or 2011, he’ll owe YSU $200,000. If he leaves in 2012, it’s lowered to $125,000 and $100,000 in 2013.
But if he leaves for a Bowl Championship Series school (which includes conferences such as the Big Ten and SEC) in 2012 or 2013, he’ll owe nothing.