Illinois Tripled Brad Underwood’s Salary and Paid a $3 Million Buyout

Written by Kyle Porter

Brad Underwood has left Oklahoma State. That is a surreal thing to type, but it’s true. Underwood jumped ship after one year for Illinois. There are a number of reasons why this probably took place, but money (as always) is probably the foremost.

We know Brad Underwood made $1 million this past season and was scheduled for $100,000 raises in each of the next two seasons. We also know Illinois just more than tripled that.

Not only that, but Illinois had to pay OSU a $3 million buyout just to poach Underwood to begin with. Here is Mark Cooper of the Tulsa World.

If Underwood leaves Oklahoma State before the end of the five-year deal, he will owe OSU a minimum of $2 million. He would owe $3 million if he leaves for another non-Big 12 job before March 31, 2018.

So Illinois will effectively be paying north of $6 million for Underwood to coach next season. The base salary alone of over $3 million would have ranked in the top 12 of last year’s college basketball coaching salaries (the 2017 database has not been released yet).

This $3 million a year also would have made Underwood around a top-three paid coach in the Big 12. I believe only Bill Self, Bob Huggins make more. OU coach Lon Kruger and Texas coach Shaka Smart both make around $3 million a year. It is presumed that Jamie Dixon does as well.

This was a business decision on both sides. If somebody triples your salary, you go. If somebody wants you to triple their salary right after you just gave the most atrocious contract in the history of college basketball to a different coach, you walk. Neither side is at fault.

The money question here — no pun intended — is whether Underwood would have stayed in Stillwater for less than $3 million. It seems like he would, but now we may never know. More importantly, Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder should have at the very least put an offer on the table two months ago that Underwood could not have said no to before the suitors came calling.

Holder had to know they would come calling, right? He had to know the Kansas State thing was in play and that there would be firings nationally at better schools. He had to know that $1 million a year is sort of an affront to a Big 12 coach, right? That’s the part that will gnaw at you three years from now when Underwood is killing it in Champaign.

For the sake of context, Travis Ford was making $2.4 million a year when he was let go last season.

  • David Einstein

    Is this a blessing in disguise? Wake up call for Holder and Self/Doug come home?

    • Common Sense

      Keep dreaming on Self. Never, ever going to happen. He’s pretty much peated and repeated this.

      We could have Doug in a second… Do we want him? I don’t know.

      • David Einstein

        I want Doug. He’s a Poke. Give him a shot.

    • Pokes405

      In what universe is letting one of the hottest coaches in the nation leave your school a blessing in disguise?

      • Bob Sitts

        Agree!!! Holder is an idiot. Underwood did great this year with guys he didnt recruit AND even changed his coaching style to get the most from his team. But lets not engage on hey if you can do this Fords guys what can you do with yours and what will it take

    • David Einstein

      Hottest coach just had the same first year result that Travis Ford did. Give me an alum that wants to be here.

      • KWC

        Not a Ford fan, but Ford actually had a better first year. Won more games, won NCAA tourny game, finished higher in Big 12. They also both took over terrible offensive teams and then scored a ton of points. Both also gave up a ton of points defensively compared to previous year. Have we forgotten how much fun James Anderson was to watch that year?

      • Pokes405

        For months you’ve been touting Brad as an incredible hire and the future of osu basketball. Now suddenly he’s Travis Ford because his first year was similar. Which one is it?

  • Clint

    Whole thing is an embarrassment and makes me SICK! What good coach is now going to think, “Yeah, Stillwater, Ok…with Mike Holder…THAT”S where I want to be!”

    • TK_1

      Damn. Good point.

  • SingingCowboy

    Holder has now failed on both ends of the basketball coach contract spectrum. He overpaid for mediocrity and underpaid for achievement. Maybe Gundy isn’t the one being unreasonable in his negotiations. This is embarrassing for OSU. It’s hard being a Cowboy alum. So much tragedy and so many self-inflicted wounds. Maybe Holder should have stuck with coaching golf.

  • davids

    Don’t know if Doug can coach but he will come pretty cheap.

  • OklaStateU

    Holder really screwed the pooch (again).

  • GoPokes

    How do we know Brad didn’t tell Holder “we’ll deal with the rest after the season, right now we’re in the tourney and let’s concentrate on the game until then”? It was ONE DAY after the game. And it clearly started before then, with Illinois. Brad’s a snake. I’m full in with Holder on this. He got blind-sided.

    • William Bryza

      not on holder. brads signed the contract and then spit in the face of the kids he was coaching. message: chatacter means nothing but money is everything

    • Dan Letourneau

      Brad Underwood is a K-State guy….not OSU

  • Adam Henderson

    Hire Gottleib.

    No self respecting, high tier coach is going to come to Stillwater and work for Holder after this. It’s telling about Holder as an AD.

    Gottleib will either be a great coach and continue the resurrection of OSU basketball, or it’ll be as dead as it inevitably will be with another mediocre coach who can’t relate to the fan base. He’s worth the gamble…

    • TK_1

      I agree. We are in a weakened position here and may have to take a risk in hopes of a payoff. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

  • Gerre Schwert

    Mike Holder has been there too long. Period.

  • lpscout

    Please stop the ‘blessing in disguise” schpeel. This P****S me off to no end and, YES, I consider Holder responsible to some extent. Do NOT think this is lost on OSU donors,…I can assure you ALREADY, IT IS NOT.

  • Donna Robison

    Hate that he is leaving! He did wonders in one year at OSU. I can’t believe that we let this happen.

    • seedyberry

      Underwood is gone – no matter what you might think about how it went down, he is history – OSU should think outside the box when replacing him

  • KWC

    It was never the amount Ford was getting paid each year. It was the 10 years and huge buyout that was the problem. Holder should have been willing to give Underwood 2+ mil a year, but only offer 2-3 years.

    • Frank Eaton

      Want to be our AD? It’s sad, but apparent that you know more than our current one…

  • Jay Tea

    I can’t believe he wants to play Michigan again. I’m not sure he is going to be “killing it” anywhere in the Big 10.

  • Saucy Takes

    Go Brad it’s your birthday