A Seattle Times story last April posited that Washington athletic director Jennifer Cohen “just might be the best bargain in major college athletics.”
It was an easy argument to understand. After all, the Tacoma native and lifelong Husky fan was earning an annual base salary of $460,000 on a five-year deal, plus a $60,000 retention bonus. According to a study from AthleticDirectorU.com, that was “the lowest annual guaranteed compensation relative to departmental expenses” of all 65 Power Five conference programs.
Moreover, Washington was winning — on and off the field. Chris Petersen’s football program had just wrapped up its third consecutive season with at least 10 wins, and first-year men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins immediately orchestrated a turnaround of his own, flipping a 9-22 team into a 21-13 contender. Last April, the athletic department also agreed to a 10-year, $120 million sponsorship deal with Adidas — which will go into effect July 1 — that stands as one of the richest of its kind in college sports.
At the time, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce told The Times that she and Cohen had already begun discussing a raise and contract extension.
“There is no question (a raise is due), if you look at her salary compared to her peers,” Cauce said. “She came in somewhat less tested, and that made sense. But I think it’s unquestionably time to look at a correction.”
A year later, it has been corrected — and not even all that recently.
The news was just never announced.
On Aug. 1, 2018, Cohen signed a contract amendment that included a three-year extension, through June 30, 2024, as well as an additional two-year option. Cohen’s base salary increased from $460,000 annually to $750,000 — a 63 percent raise — and the retention bonus was bumped up from $60,000 to $75,000 (payable upon vesting on May 31, 2021, and again on May 31, 2024, provided she remains UW’s athletic director).
Cohen may also receive performance incentives of up to $100,000 per year for a variety of academic, community outreach and athletic achievements. The 49-year-old athletic director is eligible to receive an annual raise of no less than 2 percent, at the UW president’s discretion, as well.
Washington’s athletic department made Cohen’s original contract as well as the August 2018 amendment available to The Times on Tuesday evening. News of the extension was originally reported by The Athletic this week.
Cohen was named UW’s interim AD in January 2016 and appointed full-time to the position on May 24 of the same year. A graduate of both San Diego State and Pacific Lutheran University, Cohen — who originally joined the UW athletic department in 1998 as an assistant director of development — will complete her third full year as the Huskies’ athletic director next month.
Now, it appears she’ll continue leading Washington’s athletic department well into the future.
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