Nestled between two losing seasons sits an outstanding 11-2 college football campaign that led the Michigan State Spartans to make Mel Tucker one of the highest-paid coaches in the nation. Time will tell whether it was a fiscally foolish move, but while we wait to find out, let’s examine Tucker’s salary, contract, and net worth as the head coach of Michigan State.
Mel Tucker’s Salary and Contract in 2023
As a result of the contract extension that Tucker signed following a phenomenal 2021 campaign for the Spartans, the Michigan State head coach will earn a salary of $9.5 million for the 2023 college football season. His contract is fixed at that amount for the duration, with all money guaranteed through 2031.
Like most college football head coaches, there are layers to Tucker’s salary under his most recent contract extension. The Michigan State head coach has a base salary of $5.9 million. A further $3.1 million is earned from media appearances. Meanwhile, he carries a $400,000 retention bonus, with another $100,000 received from MSU’s relationship with Nike.
After going 2-5 in the disruption of the 2020 college football season, Tucker caught lightning in a bottle in 2021, taking the Spartans on an eight-game unbeaten run that resulted in the best record for the program since 2015 and equaled their seven-win Big Ten record of the 2017 campaign.
Michigan State saw that sensational turnaround as a sign of things to come and acted swiftly to put a contract together that would keep Tucker in East Lansing as rumors swirled of outside interest in the former Colorado head coach. On the announcement of the extension, university president Samuel L. Stanley Jr enthused about Tucker’s impact on the program.
“Mel Tucker has been an outstanding addition to our Spartan athletic program. In less than two years, his leadership has already resulted in a program competing for top honors, and I’m impressed by his intensity and drive.
“Spartan fans around the country are enjoying the success of this year’s football program, and we look forward to many more successful seasons, competing at the highest levels under Coach Tucker.”
That success, at least in the immediate term, was short-lived. The year after signing an extension that gave Tucker a salary amongst the highest in college football, the Spartans floundered and faltered to a 5-7 record while winning just three of their Big Ten matchups.
After receiving such a substantial salary increase, there’s pressure on Tucker to perform in the 2023 college football season. Yet, the fully guaranteed nature of his contract means that the Spartans would have to shell out a serious amount to part ways with their head coach any time soon.
If they decided to fire Tucker without cause following the 2023 college football season, for example, Michigan State would still owe him $76 million. One silver lining for the Spartans is that following any not-for-cause termination, he has to attempt to find a new job, and any new salary would be deducted from the total owed by MSU.
On the flip side, if Tucker was to have a successful season and once again become an attractive proposition for another college football program, there are ever-decreasing buyout clauses in his contract that would require the coach — more likely his new team — to cough up a decent chunk of change for his services.
Any buyout between Jan. 16, 2023, and Jan. 15, 2024, would cost Tucker — or his new employer — $1.5 million. That amount reduces to $1 million after Jan. 15, 2024. However, Tucker has previously stated that he’s at Michigan State for the long haul.
“I made it clear in my initial press conferences that I thought Michigan State was a destination job and not a stepping stone. It was never my intention to come here and just pass through. I believe that we’re building something special here. I have tremendous support here to do that, and we’re on the right track.”
Tucker’s Net Worth
With a 10-year contract extension signed in 2021 at a guaranteed $9.5 million per year, Tucker has a net worth of $95 million.
However, it isn’t quite as simple as that. Success not only makes Tucker more valuable to Michigan State, but it also improves his overall net worth in terms of performance-related financial incentives. His full list of current bonuses, with the potential to earn up to $1.55 million in 2023, is below.
- Winning a Big Ten divisional title and playing in the Big Ten Championship Game: $200,00
- Winning the Big Ten Championship Game: $200,000
- Playing in a non-New Year’s Six bowl game: $125,000
- Playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game that doesn’t form part of the College Football Playoff: $250,000
- Appearing in the College Football Playoff: $275,000
- Winning the College Football National Championship: $500,000
- Winning Big Ten Coach of the Year: $25,000
- Winning any National Coach of the Year Award: $50,000
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In addition to the bonuses listed above, there’s a further bonus opportunity when taking into account the expansion of the College Football Playoff. On top of the $275,000 CFB Playoff appearance bonus, Tucker can earn an extra $300,000 for each additional game that the Spartans play in the revised format.
There are, of course, non-salary benefits woven into Tucker’s contract that count toward his net worth. His wife and children are entitled to a course fee credit at MSU and plane seats and hotel rooms for all postseason games. The Michigan State head coach has the use of two cars and a private plane for non-professional purposes for 50 hours per year.
Throw in a country club membership and complimentary tickets for football, hockey, and basketball, and Tucker’s benefits package is not to be scoffed at. In addition to his guaranteed salary that could see him still paid by the program long after he’s left East Lansing, Michigan State will continue to provide four home football tickets for the rest of his life.