Terry Bowden's contract at the University of Akron seems almost identical to that of his predecessor.
The new football coach will earn the same salary, has a five-year contract and has similar incentive compensations as Rob Ianello, who was ousted around Thanksgiving after two years on the job.
The stakes are huge: UA has many empty seats to fill at the $61.6 million InfoCision Stadium, which opened in 2009 to fanfare and high expectations.
This season's attendance averaged just 15,734 over six home games, only slightly above the 14,342 in the last season at the crumbling Rubber Bowl thanks to dismal team performance.
Yet while sacking Ianello indicates that UA wants to go in a new direction, officials seemed to use his contract as the template for their memorandum of understanding with Bowden.
Bowden will get the same guaranteed compensation as Ianello $300,000 in salary, $50,000 in media work and $25,000 in shoe and apparel contracts. Those guarantees made Ianello the fifth-highest paid football coach among the 12 tax-supported colleges in the Mid-American Conference last year, according to a USA Today survey.
But the new coach will get far more than a base salary. Like Ianello, he will get a sea of perks $6,000 for a country club membership, a car provided by the university and up to $10,000 in moving expenses plus two kinds of incentive compensation on top of his base.
If everything goes Bowden's way, he could do slightly better than Ianello in team performance incentives with a total payout of $120,000. But that total includes a $50,000 award for a Zips appearance at any of the five major bowl games, such as the Rose Bowl. Getting there is unlikely, as no team in the Mid-American Conference has ever made it to that level.
In comparison, Ianello's contract called for up to $115,000 in team incentives that were more within his reach. He would have received $25,000 for a MAC East Division championship; Bowden would get $20,000. Ianello would have received $50,000 for a MAC championship; Bowden, $25,000.
Bowden also would get less than Ianello if the team meets certain grade and graduation benchmarks. For Bowden, the maximum is $20,000 compared to $40,000 for Ianello.
In addition, the university apparently wants to be gentler with Bowden than it was willing to be with Ianello if other universities begin to recruit.
Ianello's contract called for him to pay UA $500,000 if he chose to leave in his first year, $400,000 in his second year, $300,000 in his third year and $150,000 in his fourth year and beyond.
In Bowden's case, the university has cut those departure penalties in half through the third year and will not demand any payments if he quits in the fourth and fifth years. The memorandum of understanding is the first step in more protracted negotiations for a full contract that in Ianello's case took eight months to complete.
Bowden's final contract could be different than the memorandum of understanding and will include agreements about the scope of his duties, retirement and any restrictions on athletically related income from sources outside the university.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.