In addition to replacing the departures of receivers coaches Graham Harrell and David Yost with new hires Dave Nichol and JaMarcus Shephard, WSU raised the salaries of its football assistant coaches and renewed the contracts of its entire coaching staff
The 2015 season saw the Mike Leach era at Washington State finally start to pay dividends. The Cougars earned their first bowl win in more than a decade and finished 9-4 – their best record since the 2003 team won the Holiday Bowl and went 10-3.
Now the Cougars are rewarding their coaches for a job well done. WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos took steps to keep the program on its uphill trajectory by granting raises to the entire football coaching staff this winter.
In addition to replacing the departures of receivers coaches Graham Harrell and David Yost with new hires Dave Nichol and JaMarcus Shephard, WSU raised salaries and renewed the contracts of its entire coaching staff.
WSU will spend more than $2.91 million on the salaries of its 10 main assistant football coaches in 2016. This is up $375,000 from the $2.537 million the Cougars put toward their assistant coaches’ salary pool in 2015.
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WSU head football coach Mike Leach also received a $200,000 raise to bring his annual compensation package up from $2.75 million to $2.95 million this year. WSU exercised the annual rollover clause in Leach’s contract, and Leach remains contracted to the school for five years, which now takes him through Dec 31, 2020.
In an interview with the Seattle Times on Thursday, Moos said the football team’s performance last season played a big part in his decision to give the staff a substantial raise, but it was also done in part to “stay competitive in the market.”
“I don’t think we need to be the highest paid coaching staff in the Pac-12 – that’s not realistic – but we do need to be competitive,” Moos said. “We’ve got great coaches and recruiters. We’ve got very good chemistry and in order to continue to grow and build something that’s sustainable, you’ve got to keep the best coaches.
“They all like it here. Most of them have young children and Pullman is a great town to raise a family. We like the feel of our staff and wanted to make sure they were rewarded.”
Aside from Leach, the biggest beneficiaries of raises were defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and assistant head coach and defensive line coach Joe Salave’a.
WSU announced in December that it had signed both men to contract extensions that would keep Grinch in Pullman through June 2019, and Salave’a through June 2018.
Grinch’s overhaul of the defense played a significant part in the Cougars’ success last season. WSU saw dramatic improvement in almost every defensive statistical category and went from being the Pac-12’s second-worst pass defense to its sixth-best pass defense. The WSU defense also forced 24 turnovers in 2015 after having only eight the year before.
According to his new contract, Grinch will receive a $150,000 raise and make $575,000 in 2016. In 2017, his base salary goes up to $600,000, and that increases to $625,000 in 2018.
Based on numbers from USA Today’s 2015 assistant coaching salary database, Grinch’s new $575,000 salary would have made him the sixth-highest paid coordinator in the Pac-12 last season.
Grinch’s updated contract also features a liquidated damages clause that puts his buyout at $500,000 if he leaves WSU for a different team on or before June 30, 2017. That amount goes down to $250,000 if he leaves any time between July 1,2017 and June 30, 2018. Thereafter, he’s no longer obligated to pay a buyout if he leaves WSU.
The buyout does not apply if Grinch leaves WSU to become a head coach at another program.
Salave’a, the architect of WSU’s American Samoa recruiting pipeline, remains the Cougars’ second-highest paid assistant coach. He earned a raise of $50,000 and will make $375,000 this year. That increases to $400,000 on Jan 1, 2017.
Offensive line coach Clay McGuire got a $40,000 raise, and will now make a base salary of $276,500. Outside linebackers coach Roy Manning got a $35,000 raise, and will now make $271,500, while inside linebackers coach Ken Wilson got a $30,000 raise to take his salary this year up to $246,500.
Head strength coach Jason Loscalzo was given a $25,000 raise and will make $251,500 this year.
Special teams coach Eric Mele and running backs coach Jim Mastro each earned a $10,000 raise. Mele will make $201,500, while Mastro will make $236,500 this year.
WSU also increased the salary pool for its two receivers coaches by $25,000. Harrell was paid $211,500 in 2015, but Nichol, his replacement, will make $251,500 this year. Yost earned $241,500 last season, but Shephard, the new inside receivers coach, will make $226,500 this year.
Moos said money for his football staff’s pay raises came from fundraised dollars. The Cougar Athletic Fund gained more than 1,000 members as the result of a membership growth campaign in the fall.
“That was extremely helpful in providing these dollars for raises,” Moos said.
The recently completed round of “Night with Cougar Football” fundraising events in Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Vancouver and Seattle were also very lucrative.
“All of them sold out,” Moos said. “In total we raised in excess of half a million dollars. I can justify those things (like staff pay increases) because of the excitement we’re getting from the fan base.”