Over the past two months, Washington State fans worried Pat Chun’s tenure in Pullman might be nearing its conclusion, as the Cougars’ third-year athletic director emerged as a potential target in multiple Power Five AD searches.
So Tuesday had to come with a sigh of relief.
Chun, who was named as a candidate in AD searches at Northwestern and Kansas, signed an extension with the Cougars that would theoretically keep him in Pullman through 2025-26, according to a school release. Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports was the first to report on Chun’s contract.
Along with the extension, Chun is receiving a pay bump of $50,000. He’ll earn a base salary of $700,000 in the first year of the contract with annual increases of $50,000 over the next four years. Chun’s also in line to receive bonuses based on fundraising and fiscal management goals. His contract will take effect on July 1.
“My family and I are grateful to President (Kirk) Schulz and the Board of Regents for their continued leadership and support,” Chun said in a school release. “It is an honor be a part of the WSU family and to serve an extraordinary group of student-athletes who continue to achieve academically and athletically. A culture of excellence has been established by our coaches and staff, and we are now poised and positioned to reach new heights in the coming years.”
When Chun was hired by WSU in 2018, he earned an annual salary of $650,000, with a $25,000 retention bonus if he completed his five-year contract. Chun’s initial contract also included a $25,000 fundraising incentive plan that was to be mutually agreed upon by the AD and Schulz.
“Pat has done an exceptional job of leading our athletics program during the past three years,” Schulz said. “He has proven himself to be one of the nation’s most influential Power Five athletic directors, guiding Cougar athletics to success not only in athletic competition, but also in the classroom, in fundraising and in creating innovative programs to benefit the welfare of our student-athletes. Pat personifies the values of Washington State University, and we are proud that he is a Coug.”
According to WSU, Chun’s new contract places him ninth for total compensation — base salary combined with other financial incentives — among Pac-12 athletic directors at public universities. The contract includes a stipulation that Chun is subject to a furlough of up to 60 days per year in the event that WSU needs to implement a school-wise budget rejection in the future. In 2020, Chun, Schulz, football coach Nick Rolovich and men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith all agreed to voluntary 15% pay reductions to help cut costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Chun leaves WSU before the end of his contract, he owes the school one-half of the annual base salary at the time of notice of termination. For example, if Chun were to leave before the end of 2021, he’d owe the school a lump sum of $350,000. In 2022, the buyout would increase to $375,000. According to the contract, if Chun terminates the agreement with less than one year remaining, his buyout will be reduced to zero.
In March, Chun’s name emerged as a top candidate to replace Kansas’ Jeff Long, and some reports indicate WSU’s AD had interviewed with the Jayhawks, though a source confirmed to The Spokesman-Review Chun was not interested in the position and never interviewed.
Less than a month later, Chun’s name popped up again as Northwestern looked to replace Jim Phillips, who left to become the commissioner of the ACC. Just days after Chun was named as a candidate, Jon Wilner of The Mercury News reported WSU’s AD — an Ohio State graduate who became familiar with the Big Ten Conference during his 15 years working within the Buckeyes’ athletic department — was no longer being considered for the position.
In his time with the Cougars, Chun has made head-coaching hires in the school’s four major sports — football (Rolovich), men’s basketball (Smith), women’s basketball (Kamie Ethridge) and baseball (Brian Greene) — while overhauling the school’s fundraising efforts and helping WSU achieve record donations. Recently, Chun also secured a corporate sponsorship with GESA Credit Union out of Richland for naming rights to the playing surface at Martin Stadium. The 10-year deal was valued at a minimum $11 million, but is expected to increase.