Done deal: Williams signs on for 7 years

November 12, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- No longer will the earning potential of University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams be tied to the performance of his teams on the court. Their performance in the classroom could provide Williams with additional income as well.

That's the result of a new and somewhat unique contract Williams, 49, signed yesterday, a seven-year deal that guarantees him nearly $250,000 annually and could give substantially more in bonuses depending on how far the Terrapins advance in both the NCAA tournament and toward degrees.

Though the amount guaranteed is not significantly different from what he was making -- a raise from $75,000 to $100,000 for his radio-and-television show, along with an annual premium of $3,000 for a $1 million term insurance policy -- the increased length of the agreement from five to seven years gives Williams more security.

"This kind of reinforces my feelings about the university," Williams said at an afternoon news conference at Cole Field House. "I think we're in harmony here on where we want to go as a university. It's great that this is done. It takes some pressure off going into the season."

Said Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow: "We are pleased to provide the extended contract to Gary Williams in recognition of his sound guidance of his student-athletes, and for his many contributions to the university, both on and off the court. Coach Williams and his staff have done a remarkable job in turning around the basketball program."

This marks the third contract Williams has signed since returning to his alma mater in 1989 from Ohio State. His previous deal, signed in 1991, was for five years with a one-year rollover clause at the end of each season. This contract can, at the university's option, be rolled over at any time.

Williams reportedly was making a package of around $450,000 that included a base salary of $138,526 and a $5,500 annual car allowance. Williams made a majority of his money from an endorsement contract with Nike, which jumped significantly when Maryland advanced to the NCAA's Sweet 16 last year, as well as from his summer camp and radio and television deal.

Neither Williams nor his Baltimore-based attorney, Don McCartney, would disclose how much the new package might ultimately be worth. But McCartney, who has represented Williams for 15 years and stepped in two weeks ago to finish the negotiations after Williams fired another attorney, said that the potential difference between this contract and his previous deal could be "significant."

Yow, who had recently offered Williams a straight seven-year deal with an annual $50,000 raise, said that the bonuses tied to academic performance "makes good sense." Yow added that "the academic community appreciates that we're not just going to reward a coach for athletic achievement."

Said Williams: "I think it's fair. You can have a great team, but if your players are doing a poor job in the classroom, it could hurt the image of the entire university. I think something like this will help us when it comes to recruiting."

Williams reportedly was seeking a 10-year contract that would give him a $500,000 annuity once the deal expired. Of the deal he signed, Williams said, "I think it's a great contract. It gives me security. The school made a commitment and I made a commitment."

While the contract doesn't ensure that Williams will remain at Maryland for the remainder of his coaching career, it's a step in that direction. Since there is no buyout clause, it doesn't preclude Williams from leaving to take an NBA head coaching job down the road.

"The pros can offer him a multi-million contract, but this gives him the opportunity to take care of himself for the rest of his life without going to the pros," McCartney said. "Gary is far more concerned in coaching basketball than in how much money he makes."

NOTES: Yow announced that the basketball team has provided an additional $400,000 by selling out for the entire 1994-95 home schedule. That money is considered a surplus and will help reduce a $7 million debt for the athletic department.

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