By Matt Stevens - IlliniGuys Staff Writer
March 30, 2022
CHAMPAIGN -- For the second time in his tenure at the University of Illinois, Brad Underwood has seen his contract extended and modified.
Underwood, who just completed his fifth season as the Illini’s head men’s basketball coach, agreed to a new contract that extends his deal one year longer with Illinois through the 2027-28 season and is still fully guaranteed by the university through the next four seasons.
“Brad Underwood has led a remarkable resurgence of our men's basketball program,” Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman said via the university release. "Under his strong leadership, we have won Big Ten championships, posted one of the best three-year runs in the history of Fighting Illini men's basketball and the Big Ten Conference, and reestablished ourselves on the national stage. Our work is far from finished, and Brad and I are hungry to continue on our upward trajectory next year and in the years beyond, but the foundation has been laid for sustained success long into the future. I am grateful to Brad, Susan, and the entire Underwood family for their commitment to the University of Illinois, and I couldn't be more excited about continuing our journey together.”
Underwood, who currently has an overall record of 94-66 at Illinois and a 55-43 mark in Big Ten Conference play over the past five seasons, led Illinois to a share of the 2022 Big Ten championship, the school's first regular season title in 17 years. Illinois was a No. 4 seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, becoming one of just six programs to receive top-4 seeds in back-to-back tournaments after earning a No. 1 seed in 2021. The Illini saw its 2021-22 season come to an end with a 68-53 loss to Houston in the second round in Pittsburgh on March 20. However, Illinois stands as one of just 12 schools to advance to the Round of 32 in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments, which also marks Illinois' first time advancing in consecutive NCAA Tournaments in 16 years.
According to the annual data provided by USA Today Sports, Underwood’s new deal would establish him as the eighth-highest paid Division I men’s basketball head coach in the nation and the second-highest paid men’s basketball head coach in the Big Ten Conference behind only Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.
“I've said this before, but on behalf of my wife Susan and our family, I want to reiterate how thankful we are for the way we've been welcomed into the Champaign-Urbana and U of I communities,” Underwood said via the university release. “There is simply no better place to live, no better school to represent, and no better program to lead. I am honored to coach Fighting Illini Basketball and look forward to the many exciting years that lie ahead for our program.”
The new contract will need approval at the next university Board of Trustees meeting scheduled for May 19, 2022 in Springfield.
According to the university athletics department release, Underwood's proposed contract calls for an annual increase of $500,000 ($300,000 increase in base compensation and a $200,000 increase in the annual retention bonus) while also increasing the buyout clause of what would be owed to Illinois if Underwood were to accept employment elsewhere. The contract will also “continue to include bonus opportunities for advancement in the NCAA Tournament and other agreed-upon metrics”. However, based on Underwood’s previous contract (which became official at the Sept. 23 2021 BOT meeting) here is a summary of how the Illini coach’s deal has changed.
Underwood’s Annual Salary in Previous Deal (before any performance bonuses)
* = 100 percent guaranteed by University of Illinois
2021-22: $4.1 million
2022-23: $4.1 million*
2023-24: $4.2 million*
2024-25: $4.3 million*
2025-26: $4.4 million
2026-27: $4.5 million
Underwood’s Annual Salary in New Deal (before any performance bonuses)
* = 100 percent guaranteed by University of Illinois
2022-23: $4.6 million*
2023-24: $4.7 million*
2024-25: $4.8 million*
2025-26: $4.9 million*
2026-27: $5 million
Since the 2027-28 season is the new sixth year of this agreement, the salary of that season in the new deal is unknown and will not be made public until the next BOT meeting in May. The university failed to release the new agreed-upon figures of the buyout clause in Underwood’s new contract and those details would also need to wait until the next BOT meeting in May. However, under his previous contract, the school hiring Underwood away was required to pay half of his remaining guaranteed contract, approximately $9.5 million at any point this past year if that school was outside the Big Ten Conference. Under this new deal between Underwood and Illinois, that previous $9.5 million is likely to increase. Under the previous contract, a Big Ten Conference school hiring Underwood away from Illinois would have to pay the part of his contract that is fully guaranteed. Since that clause is not likely to be altered, a Big Ten Conference school would likely now have to pay Illinois more than the previous total of $19 million to hire him away from the Illini program. Again, since the annual salary figure (and subsequent percentage of guaranteed money) for the 2027-28 season is currently unknown, the exact figure of what Illinois athletics would be required to pay Underwood if he were ever terminated without cause is unknown. Under his previous deal, Underwood’s fifth year was 50 percent guaranteed and the sixth year was 25 percent guaranteed.
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