Parting ways with Mike Riley potentially could cost Nebraska more than $6.6 million, just three years after the Huskers were on the hook for a similar total after firing Bo Pelini.
Per terms of his contract, Riley would be owed $170,000 a month through its duration if terminated without cause. With the one-year extension signed before this season, the deal currently runs to Feb. 28, 2021.
With 39 full months remaining as of Dec. 1, that buyout would compute to $6,630,000. The monthly payments possibly could be lowered, however, if Riley were to find new employment.
Nebraska initially was going to owe Pelini an estimated $7.9 million after he was fired on Nov. 30, 2014. When he was hired as head coach at Youngstown State and that contract was signed, mitigated earnings were figured into his monthly payments and that total was lowered to almost $6.54 million.
Pelini’s contract called for him to receive $150,000 a month, compared to $170,000 for Riley, but Pelini had four seasons remaining when he was fired compared to three for Riley. NU recently confirmed to The World-Herald that Pelini is continuing to be paid his adjusted monthly payments of $128,009, which will go through February 2019.
After University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds confirmed in September that Riley had received his one-year extension — that would carry him through the 2020 season — he told The World-Herald that a request from former Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst to add another year was going to be put on hold until December.
Eichorst was fired on Sept. 21 and was owed about $1.7 million for what was left on his contract.
The Riley salary for 2017 was $2.9 million, a figure that ranked in the middle of Big Ten head coaches. Riley was scheduled to receive $100,000 bumps in 2018, ’19 and ’20.
Pelini made $3,075,000 in his seventh and final season at NU.
Riley’s contract also states that, “within a reasonably brief period following termination, Coach shall use his or her best efforts to seek and secure substantially comparable employment including the customary and reasonable terms and conditions of compensation at the new employment, without structuring or timing compensation to avoid mitigation.”
As an example, if Riley were to take a position that paid $600,000 annually, the $50,000 per month would lower the NU obligations from $170,000 to $120,000.
As with Pelini, Riley’s contract does not call for his compensation to be paid by a specified point. When Bill Callahan was fired after the 2007 season, it was stated that NU had 60 days to pay him a remaining amount of $3.125 million, which it did in one lump sum on Jan. 22, 2008, even though Callahan had just taken a position with the New York Jets.
In addition to the cost involved with terminating Pelini’s employment, Nebraska also spent a final total of $1,941,501 on his assistant coaches before the last of their contracts expired.