Assistants get pay raises; Fox receives buyout protection

Georgia men’s basketball coach Mark Fox’s assistants received a boost in pay and Fox’s reworked contract now includes some future protection that would make it less costly for him to leave if changes occur atop the school and athletic administration.

The annual salaries of Fox’s assistant coaches increased by a combined $100,000.

Those raises follow Fox’s $400,000-per-year increase in a deal announced in April that is now worth at least $1.7 million per year. Fox also received a one-year contract extension following a 21-12 season and the program’s first NCAA tournament at-large berth since 2002.

As part of Fox’s recently signed amended contract that now runs through March 31, 2016, changes were made to the buyout provision.

Fox would still have to pay Georgia a hefty $2 million buyout within 45 days if he were to leave at any time before the end of the deal, but those “Liquidated Damages” drop to $500,000 if “both (1) a significant change in the administration of the University has occurred as compared to the University’s administration in existence as of May 1, 2011, and (2) the Athletic Director has changed from the person who held the position as of May 1, 2011. …”

The amended contract, signed by Fox, UGA president Michael Adams and athletic director Greg McGarity, was obtained by the Athens Banner-Herald under Georgia open records laws.

McGarity said it was a “valid point” for the new buyout clause to be included for Fox, who is entering his third season in Athens.

“I think Mark is very comfortable in his current working environment,” said McGarity, who just completed his first school year as AD. “If that working environment were to change then that’s Mark’s concerns. That’s why it’s in there. It’s still a very healthy buyout if we were to change. A half-million dollars is lot of money.

“But he’s fine, perfectly fine with things as they are with the current working environment. He has no issue at all. He just wanted to have some protection in case that working environment changed.”

Another change to the contract is that if Fox is fired “without cause,” he will now receive 100 percent of the total compensation for each year remaining instead of 75 percent.

Fox’s annual compensation now breaks down this way: $300,000 base salary, $650,000 radio/TV compensation, $200,000 sports camp compensation, $450,000 supplemental income and $100,000 in a longevity bonus.

As for Fox’s assistants, Kwanza Johnson and Philip Pearson each earned $30,000 raises to boost their annual salaries to $185,000 and $170,000, respectively. Stacey Palmore received a $40,000 raise to bring his salary to $160,000.

Fox is given a salary pool to allocate to his assistants, McGarity said.

“Our assistants, I think we’re 10th in the league,” McGarity said of the Southeastern Conference. “We had to make some adjustments. … That’s not where our pool should be. Pretty much in line with Mark, it was getting our assistants in the top half of the league.”

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