Taggart's new deal for 5 years, $9 million
Roughly four hours before Monday afternoon's Miami Beach Bowl, USF released coach Willie Taggart's new contract: a five-year, $9 million deal that includes a significantly increased buyout and assistant salary pool.
Taggart, who signed the contract Thursday, is completing Year 3 of his old deal that paid roughly $1.2 million annually. USF (8-4), winner of seven of its last eight, entered Monday's game against Western Kentucky seeking the program's fourth nine-win season ever.
“We are very excited about the direction of our football program and the leadership, vision and enthusiasm that Coach Taggart has provided,” USF athletic director Mark Harlan said in a school news release.
“I’ve been so impressed with how he has created a winning culture in the classroom, in the community and on the field and he has never waivered from his belief in what he is building. This extension is well-earned and well-deserved."
Taggart's new contract calls for a $500,000 base salary, with $1.2 million in "promotional activities" coming from TV contracts, shoe deals, sponsorships, etc. That supplemental compensation increases by $50,000 annually starting in 2017.
Meantime, his staff salary pool increases to $2.4 million for 2016 -- a $500,000 increase from the old deal -- and gradually escalates to $2.9 million by Jan. 1, 2020. The spike was believed to be a key part of negotiations, and comes amid reports first-year defensive coordinator Tom Allen is being considered for the same job at Auburn.
When asked last week if USF now was in a better position to retain coveted assistants, Taggart said, "I would say better but that Power Five money's a little different. We're better, we're good, but the reality of it is, they have a lot more money. Hopefully with anyone, that's not what you're chasing, but again, to each his own."
If Taggart, 39, were to be fired "without cause," USF would owe him a maximum of $1.7 million (through Dec. 31, 2016) and minimum of $800,000 (from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2020). If Taggart, who interviewed for the coaching vacancy at South Carolina earlier this month, leaves for another job, his buyout starts at $1.7 million and decreases to $800,000 by the contract's final year.
Performance bonuses range from $250,000 (winning national championship) to $5,000 (eight-win regular season). Taggart receives $10,000 for reaching the American Athletic Conference title game, and another $40,000 if USF wins it.
Bonuses even are tied to season ticket sales; Taggart can make up to an additional $20,000 if at least 20,000 tickets are sold.
"President (Judy) Genshaft and Mark Harlan have been tremendously supportive as we work together to build something very special here at USF," Taggart said in the USF release. "We appreciate the Bulls fans, students and alumni who have taken Bulls Nation to places it has never been before. We are just getting started.”