Florida International U

FIU doesn’t have a $1 million football coach. But it’ll be happy if Davis becomes one.

Butch Davis is named head coach of FIU Football at FIU Stadium on Tues., Nov. 15, 2016
Butch Davis is named head coach of FIU Football at FIU Stadium on Tues., Nov. 15, 2016 adiaz@miamiherald.com

FIU’s highest paid employee, the new football head coach, won’t make over $1 million in base salary. At least not until his fourth season.

But a look at Paul Hilton “Butch” Davis’ five-year contract tells how much FIU’s fully investing in -- or betting on -- Davis to revive the football program.

Davis will start with a $900,000 base salary that’s 43 percent greater than FIU President Mark Rosenberg’s 2015-16 salary, according to Florida Has a Right to Know. If Davis stays for a second season, his annual 5 percent raise to $945,000 will almost equal the combined last base salaries of his two immediate predecessors, Ron Turner ($500,000) and Mario Cristobal ($453,183).

A third year would see Davis’ base rise to $992,250. Not until his fourth season will Davis become a million dollar coach: $1,041,863.

FIU’s 2016-17 budget anticipates the athletic department bringing in $27.3 million and FIU Athletics Finance Corporation bringing in $4.6 million. Student fees provided 82.55 percent of athletics operating revenue in 2015-16, the highest among FBS schools, according to USA Today’s annual college finances list.

In a text message to The Herald, Deputy Athletics Director Bobby Staub wrote the coaching staff salaries were being handled, “through a combination of athletic department operation and foundation funds. No university dollars.”

Staub explained “foundation funds” are money raised for athletics that had been saved over the years.

$314,969 2015-16 salary according to Florida Has a Right to Know for R. Alexander Acosta, Dean of FIU Law School, which has had the state’s highest Florida Bar passage rate three years in a row

$900,000 base salary for FIU football coach Butch Davis.

$590,000 what would’ve been Butch Davis’ salary at North Carolina in 2012. Davis was fired after the 2011 season.

According to USA Today‘s annual coaching salary list, Rice’s David Bailiff made Conference USA’s highest football coach salary last season, $903,556. But the list appears to count at least yearly retention bonuses -- annual bonus paid to a coach if he’s still employed on a given date -- as base salary.

Davis’ bonus package doesn’t include a retention bonus, which were in the deals for Turner ($50,000) and Cristobal ($25,000). But he’s got plenty of opportunity to earn up to $550,000 icing on his cash cake.

A bowl bid gets Davis an extra $35,000. A conference championship game appearance, another $35,000. If Davis pulls that off in the next two years, he’ll be a contender for Conference USA coach of the year, an award that would bring another $25,000. Finish in the Top 25? $50,000. That would probably get Davis National Coach of the Year ($50,000) consideration.

Davis has talked about FIU being the Group of Five team to get into a New Year’s Day bowl game. A happy FIU would pony up an extra $125,000 for that.

His single year Academic Progress Rate bonuses have three levels: above 940, $30,000; above 950, $40,000; and above 970, $60,000. FIU’s last single year APR above 940 came in 2008-09, a 951 in Cristobal’s second year.

These days, the second stack of dollars you set aside after the head coach’s salary is the money for the assistant coaches. One reason for the SEC’s prominence: schools make it rain like monsoon season on assistants, thus keeping quality coaches and staff cohesion. In negotiating his 2011 contract extension, Cristobal considered getting more money to spend on assistants a priority. He wound up with a yearly chunk of $112,000 he could spend on bumping up their salaries.

Davis’ assistant coach pool runs $1.6 million deep. For nine assistants, that averages $177,778.

So, Davis’ assistant coaches’ average salary will be more than all but one previous single FIU assistant in the program’s history. In the second year of a two-year deal, defensive coordinator Josh Conklin earned his $200,000 so well in 2014 that Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi grabbed him for that staff.

By comparison, Turner’s 2016 staff of assistants collectively cost just under $1 million. Four years ago, Cristobal’s final group of nine assistants cost $922, 957.

One of Davis’ assistants, according to various reports, will be former Hurricanes wide receiver and wide receivers coach Kevin Beard.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal