Sanders' contract at ETSU gives him incentive to win

Joe Avento • Updated Dec 22, 2017 at 4:59 PM

Randy Sanders’ contract as East Tennessee State’s head football coach is heavily laden with incentives.

The four-year deal, which was signed on Thursday, calls for an annual base salary of $225,000 and a $30,000 annual stipend for other responsibilities.

The incentives could increase Sanders’ compensation handsomely if he gets the program into the upper echelon of the Southern Conference.

Sanders replaced Carl Torbush, who announced his retirement earlier this month after helping the school restart the program and coaching the team for three seasons. Torbush’s base salary was $160,000 with $80,000 in stipends. He was also getting a retention bonus of $25,000 each summer.

The incentives

Sanders will get $7,500 for every conference victory over .500, $20,000 for a SoCon regular-season-championship, $5,000 for a berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs and $7,500 for each playoff win.

In addition, he’d get an additional $5,000 if he’s the SoCon coach of the year and $37,500 if ETSU wins the national championship.

Say Sanders gets his team to go 7-1 in the SoCon, wins the conference and — we’re just dreaming here — wins the national championship. He could earn as much as $150,000 in incentives.

More incentives

With ETSU’s schedule, the Bucs will get a chance to play some Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the future, beginning with Tennessee next fall. They’re also scheduled to face Georgia, Vanderbilt and Appalachian State in coming years.

Sanders will have a chance to earn even more with a big upset. Each victory over a Power 5 school will bring $15,000, while beating an FBS school not among the Power 5 will earn $10,000.

There are academic incentives in the deal as well, based on the NCAA Academy’s Progress Rate, which, according to the NCAA’s website “holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.”


Sanders also gets a car provided by donors and a golf membership to either Blackthorn Club or The Virginian, if donors provide such memberships.

Also included in the deal are 10 tickets to each football game and six to all other ETSU sports.

The contract also allows him to earn outside income.

Starts on Friday

The deal goes into effect Friday and runs through Dec. 31, 2021. Sanders is still serving as Florida State’s quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator in the Independence Bowl, which takes place Wednesday.

He was told during the season that he wouldn’t be retained next year. He still had one year left on his contract at Florida State, which paid $592,000 annually. That school will still be paying him at least part of that through next year.

Simple buyout

Sanders’ contract has a simple buyout. If he takes another coaching job, he must make an effort to have his new school schedule a game with ETSU within 10 years. Otherwise, the buyout is $150,000.

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