The University of Akron has two options as it decides what to do with fired football coach Rob Ianello: Send him packing with severance or assign him to another job on campus.
“We are currently talking with Coach Ianello about his contract with the university,” UA spokeswoman Eileen Korey said by email. “According to legal language, he has not been ‘fired.’ He has been relieved of his duties as the head football coach.”
Officials are mum about what might happen to Ianello, who was dismissed Nov. 26 after the university’s worst two-season record since moving to Division I-A football in 1987: a combined 2-22. Director of Athletics Tom Wistrcill has said he will not comment while the search for a new coach is in progress.
Prospects for the 12 staffers who worked for Ianello, however, are definite. They were notified they were fired when Ianello was removed from his coaching job.
Athletic department policy requires fall sports staffers to be notified by Nov. 30 and to be paid through February if their contracts won’t be extended.
Four of the staffers are on campus working, and the others will be reassigned to new positions by the athletic department, Korey said.
The salaries of 11 staff members range from a low of $46,350 for assistant coach Frisman Jackson and operations director John Palmer to a high of $135,000 for defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove. A 12th employee, assistant operations director Jordan Heighway, made $9.62 an hour.
The staffers will receive $160,000 over the next three months in already budgeted funds, Korey said.
What hasn’t been budgeted is salaries for incoming football staff under a new head coach.
Ianello could be reassigned to another job on campus at his coaching base pay of $300,000 under the terms of his 24-page contract.
The university cannot assign him to any position “which is not consistent with his education and experience or which may reasonably be considered a demotion or embarrassment,” according to the contract.
If UA offers Ianello a reasonable reassignment and he rejects it, the university would be off the financial hook except for health insurance and life insurance that would extend for a year, or until he’s employed full-time elsewhere.
If UA can’t find an appropriate spot for Ianello, it would provide him with severance equal to one-half of his base pay for the three years remaining on his five-year contract, or a total of $450,000 plus benefits.
At the same time, UA has another cash outlay on its hands: an executive search firm to comb athletic departments nationwide for a successor to Ianello.
The university has hired Collegiate Sports Associates of West End., N.C., for $25,000 plus expenses. Time is crucial, as National Signing Day is Feb. 1 and the university wants to have its new head coach in place by then.
In 2009, UA paid Parker Executive Search of Atlanta $50,000 plus expenses to recruit Ianello, then the assistant coach at the University of Notre Dame.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org