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Show Thad Matta the money: Ohio State coach picks up bonuses on the way to the Final Four

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

Ohio State coach Thad Matta walked down the hall at Boston’s TD Garden a richer man after his team defeated Syracuse to advance to the Final Four.

A group of reporters quickly flocked around the coach and he was asked about sophomore forward Jared Sullinger’s decision to return to school instead of leaving for the NBA. The win against Syracuse seemingly validated his choice.

“I’m very happy for him,” Matta said.

But that wasn’t all Matta had to say.

“And very happy for me,” he said.

Matta should be happy. He likely wasn’t talking about it at that moment, but OSU’s trip to the Final Four has earned him a pretty penny in addition to his base salary.

According to Matta’s contract, a trip to the Final Four gives Matta a $20,000 bonus and the tournament run up until this point has garnered Matta a total of $80,000.

Matta’s contract dictates that he gets $40,000 every year his team qualifies for the NCAA Tournament, $20,000 for his team making the Elite Eight, and $20,000 for making the Final Four.

There is no extra bonus for making it to the National Championship game, but if OSU wins it all in New Orleans, Matta will receive another bonus of $100,000 .

Matta will be paid about $2.1 million combined for his base salary, media obligation and endorsement deals for the 2011-12 season .

In addition to the NCAA Tournament bonuses, Matta also received a $20,000 bonus for OSU sharing the Big Ten regular season championship with Michigan State and Michigan. Sharing the championship also guaranteed him a one-year contract extension.

OSU students tended to think all the money spent compensating Matta was worth it.

“With football and basketball, those are the two high revenue sports, if he brings our team more prominence and national spotlight, of course he deserves the money,” said Vilok Desai, a third-year in biology and anthropology.

But compared to the rest of the coaches in the Final Four, Matta is at the bottom of the totem pole.

His counterpart Saturday night, Kansas coach Bill Self, has a base salary of $2.5 million and has already earned $50,000 for winning the Big 12 regular season title and $100,000 for advancing his team to the Final Four, according to an Associated Press article.

Self would earn another $200,000 if his team wins the championship, according to the article.

Kentucky’s John Calipari has more money on the line than anyone, though. According to the report, he’s already banked $400,000 in bonuses in addition to his base salary of $3.8 million for the Wildcats’ run to the Final Four and SEC conference championship.

If Kentucky wins the title, a bonus of $350,000 would kick in.

Calipari’s opponent, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, has a base salary of $3 million and has earned $225,000 in bonuses according to the report. If Pitino can maneuver his squad past Kentucky and win the championship, he’ll make another $150,000.

Ryan Buntain, a fourth-year in material science engineering, said the discrepancy in pay is warranted.

“I think his bonuses are fine where they’re at right now,” he said. “His job is to get to the National Championship and he’s doing it right now.”

Calipari and Pitino’s incentives actually approach the incentives in OSU football coach Urban Meyer’s contract.

Meyer, who makes $4 million as his base salary, earns $50,000 if OSU wins the Big Ten Leaders’ Division, $100,000 if OSU wins the Big Ten Championship Game, $150,000 if he leads to the team to a BCS game appearance, and $250,000 if OSU appears in the BCS National Championship.

Meyers incentives are significantly higher than Matta’s, but students reiterated that despite the basketball team’s success, OSU is still a football school and the money reflects it.

“With how big football is at Ohio State, it doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Eric Felton, a fourth-year in nutrition and community health.


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