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McElwain's contract is five-year deal with $640,000 annual compensation


From left-to-right, Athletic Director Micheal Alford, Football Head Coach Jim McElwain and University President Bob Davies talk the football program's future on Dec. 3 at the John G. Kulhavi Events Center.

The deal for Central Michigan to land new head coach Jim McElwain is a five-year, $400,000 base contact, CMU Athletic Director Michael Alford told CM Life on Dec. 3.

Even though McElwain's salary is $400,000 base, the 56-year-old will earn $190,000 per year in additional compensation and a $50,000 retention bonus.

McElwain will cash in at least $640,000 per season at Central Michigan.

McElwain earned $300,000 during the 2018 season with Michigan and is still collecting money from his $7.5 million buyout from Florida, which cut ties with him near the end of the 2017 campaign.

Accepting the job as CMU's head coach on Dec. 2, McElwain brings a rich tradition of success. He was the 2015 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, 2015 South Eastern Conference Coach of the Year, two-time SEC Eastern Division champion, an overall 44-28 record and owns a winning bowl record.

Looking back on his three-year tenure with Florida, of which McElwain is still receiving compensation, he said he's ready to incorporate what he learned from those situations.

"Anytime you go through something like that, it gives you a chance to reflect," McElwain said. "I would never give that experience up for anything. The biggest piece is being able to look back and incorporate what you learn."

Former Central Michigan coach John Bonamego, who was fired on Nov. 23, made $430,000 base salary in 2018. With bonuses, his 2018 compensation was $656,000 – making him the highest paid CMU employee.

McElwain said he plans to talk with Bonamego in the near future.

"I've met John," McElwain said. "We've run into each other at some things. I've heard nothing but great things about him. (CMU) should be proud of him. He's highly respected."

McElwain was fired from Florida in October 2017. In terms of the $7.5 million buyout agreement, McElwain will make $1 million on July 1, 2019. He adds $1 million on July 1, 2020 and $500,000 on July 1, 2021.

From the buyout from Florida and CMU's compensation, McElwain will make $1.6 million in 2019.

Retention Bonus

McElwain earns a $50,000 retention bonus annually if he's employed after Feb. 15 of his given contract year.

Game Incentives

Earning a win over an ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC or Pac 12 conference program, McElwain will add $10,000. He could add $7,500 for seven wins in a season, $10,000 for eight wins, $12,500 for nine wins, $15,000 for 10 wins, $17,500 for 11 wins and $20,000 for 12 wins.

McElwain has the chance to make $20,000 if he wins the Mid-American Conference West Division title, as long as he participates in the MAC Championship game. If he wins the conference title game, he will add $25,000.

For participating and winning a bowl game, McElwain would make $20,000 and $25,000, respectively.

A College Football Playoff appearance will hand McElwain a $100,000 bonus. If he plays in the Fiesta, Peach, Cotton, Orange, Rose or Sugar Bowl, he adds $75,000.

Ending the season ranked in the College Playoff Top 25 hands McElwain $20,000. Winning MAC Coach of the Year ups his dollar amount collected to $25,000, and he earns $35,000 for being named National Coach of the Year by a major publication.

Attendance Incentives

If the home game average attendance at Kelly/Shorts Stadium exceeds 20,000 persons, McElwain receives $10,000 extra. If it exceeds 25,000 persons, he receives $15,000.

Academic Incentives

For NCAA single-year Academic Progress Rate successes, McElwain will collect a sum of $2,500 for above 950, $7,500 for above 965 and $10,000 for above 985.

CMU football players' work in the classroom could also pay off for McElwain's paycheck.

  • Average of 2.7-2.79 GPA, McElwain receives $3,000
  • Average of 2.8-2.89 GPA, McElwain receives $5,000
  • Average of 2.9-2.99 GPA, McElwain receives $7,500
  • Average of 3.0 GPA and above, McElwain receivers $15,000

Other Compensation

McElwain will receive an additional compensation of $190,000 in 2019-20, $215,000 in 2020-21, $240,000 in 2021-22, $265,000 in 2022-23 and $290,000 in 2023-24. Those dollar amounts will be added to McElwain's annual $400,000 base. He also receives $900 in annual cell phone allowance.

If McElwain leaves Central early, his buyout would range from $1.2 million down to $400,000, depending how late in his contract the exit occurs. If Central fires McElwain, the university's buyout ranges from $2 million down to $400,000.

Coach Buyout

If McElwain leaves Central Michigan before his contract is up, he owes the university:

  • In 2019-20, McElwain owes CMU $1,200,000
  • In 2020-21, McElwain owes CMU $1,000,000
  • In 2021-22, McElwain owes CMU $800,000
  • In 2022-23, McElwain owes CMU $600,000
  • In 2023-24, McElwain owes CMU $400,000

If McElwain is fired by Central Michigan, the university's owes him:

  • In 2019-20, McElwain receives $2,000,000
  • In 2020-21, McElwain receives $1,600,000
  • In 2021-22, McElwain receives $1,200,000
  • In 2022-23, McElwain receives $800,000
  • In 2023-24, McElwain receives $400,000