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Drafting Resources for College Coaching Contracts

This page is provided for educational purposes and only as a central space for various resources and information concerning drafting coaching contracts. The information provided is in no way to be considered legal advice, nor is the NCAA implying that any of these clauses are mandatory in the coaching contracts at NCAA institutions.

A well-drafted coaching contract is key to outlining expectations for your athletic personnel, providing a basis for accountability, defining compensation packages, and protecting the institution and coach from future events.


I. Purpose, Definitions, and Other Items

II. Position/Duties and Responsibilities

III. Term of Employment

IV. Compensation

V. Termination

VI. Miscellaneous Provisions

I. Purpose, Definitions, & Other Items

Recitals. Recital language is language that simply introduces the contract and gives certain background information (i.e., briefly acknowledges that one party is desiring certain services and that the other party is performing certain services). A recital of consideration is sometimes included. Many times recitals begin with the language, "Whereas . . .", but this is not a requirement. Your recitals should, however, be consistent with the operative provisions of your contract. Ambiguity or contradiction may cause your contract to be read as ambiguous.

Definitions. Are there words for which you intend a meaning other than the plain meaning of the word? Is there a phrase used throughout the contract that needs further definition or clarification? If there are terms that you use throughout the contract that may be susceptible to interpretation or you intend to mean something other than the plain meaning of the word, those terms should be defined in this section. You may choose to define some terms in the text without including a separate definitions section. This is accomplished by simply adding a parenthetical following the term with your brief definition or alternate word choice in quotation marks. This is especially helpful with abbreviations. For example: This contract is by and between North Pole University and Sant A. Claws (collectively "the Parties"). This in-text definition prevents you from having to rewrite the full names of the parties each time you want to refer to them together.

PurposeWhat is the purpose of the contract? Briefly state that the contract is for the employment of [Coach Name]. Sometimes, this purpose is included in the recitals section and may not need a separate paragraph on it's own.

PartiesWho are the parties to the contract? This section should briefly state who you intend to be legally bound by the content of the agreement. These are the legal parties to the contract.

Confidentiality ClauseAre the terms and details of this contract to remain confidential? Include this clause if used by the University.

Examples of Purposes &Definitions Clauses

II. Position/Duties and Responsibilities

Position. What is the position being filled? Specify here what specific coaching position this person is hired to fulfill (i.e., Head Coach, Assistant Coach, etc.).

Responsibilities. What are the coach's direct responsibilities? Outline the specific responsibilities expected of this coach. For example, will the coach be responsible for budgeting, planning, recruiting, evaluating on-field performance, promoting University athletics, and academic performance objectives?If so, outline these items in this portion of the contract. the specific responsibilities of the coach

Compliance. What is the coach's duty when it comes to NCAA Rules compliance? It may be helpful to state that the coach has a duty to follow all the rules of the NCAA, the Conference as well as the institution. You may cite directly to relevant bylaws in this section that help to clarify these section.

Reporting. Set out the hierarchical reporting structure in relation to this coach. It is helpful to include not only to whom the coach will report, but any direct reports for whom the coach is responsible or will act as supervisor.

Best Effort. Insert a best effort clause establishing that coach must give the University his best effort at all times.

Examples of Position/Duties &Responsibilities Clauses

III. Term of Employment

Term. How long do you intend the contract to last? good employment contract (or any other agreement) sets out the term or years of the contract and specifies a termination date.

Renewal. What is the period for renewal or extension? A provision outlining a time-period for renewal or extension of the contract is helpful to both the coach and the institution for future planning.

  • Rollover provision- These types of provisions specify that certain provisions in the contract or the entire contract will automatically rollover into extra years if the coach reaches certain measurable goals.

Reassignment. What power should your institution have if a coach's performance is sub par? A reassignment provision allows the institution to reassign the coach to a different position for substandard coaching performance. NOTE: Be sure to define "substandard coaching performance" somewhere in your contract to give a foundation and general understanding for what type of behavior falls into this category and triggers the reassignment authority instilled by this contract. You want to create an agreement with as few ambiguities as possible or at least provide some foundation from which a person can begin to interpret the substance of your agreement.

Re-opener. At what point should the parties to the contract renegotiate terms? A re-opener clause sets a date, typically prior to the termination date of the contract, where the parties can come together to renegotiate terms of the agreement.

Examples of Term of Employment Clauses

IV. Compensation

Much of your negotiation process will likely focus on the compensation package for your coach. This area deserves special attention in drafting so that all dollar amounts, benefits, and calculations are drafted with meticulous care so as to eliminate mistakes in drafting and limit ambiguity in the contract. It is helpful in this section to not only write numbers using arabic numerals, but to follow that will a typed out version of the dollar amount or number. EXAMPLE: If you intended to write the number $700,000, but in the drafter left off a zero and typed in $70,000, following up the numerical representation with (seven hundred thousand dollars) in parentheses can help clarify the intended number. Typing the number in words is a more deliberate action and tends not to produce as many errors as simply typing numerals.

The following is simply a checklist of items that might be included in your compensation package. It should be completed with as much detail as possible. This is not a complete list, nor is it a mandated list (i.e., you may have some items in your compensation packages not listed here or you may see items here that you do not include). There is no need to include benefit sections if you do not intend to offer that benefit. At a very minimum, you should include the base salary and general benefits.

Base Salary. The base salary is the amount you will pay your coach exclusive of benefits.

Merit Increase. What will be the process for merit increases? How often will the coach be considered for a merit increase?

  • Outline the criteria for bonuses. (Academic incentives, victories, conference championships, bowl appearances, etc.)


  • Housing - Will you pay any portion of the housing expenses? Will the coach be housed in a home owned by the institution? Generally, what role, if any, will your institution
  • Relocation expenses - Will the institution pay relocation expenses? If so, what percentage?
  • Travel - Institutional responsibility for travel expenses? All travel or just certain?
  • Game tickets - How many tickets will the coach receive to distribute for each game? Different for home and away games?What about Championships and Tournaments?
  • Insurance - What insurance plan/package?This may be the same for all institution employees
  • Tuition remission - Will the coach receive tuition remission for taking classes at your institution?What about family members or children?
  • Country club memberships etc. - Will the coach receive any complimentary club memberships?
  • Retirement benefits - What are the retirement benefits? Anything in addition to the standard benefits for institution employees?

Supplemental Income (ex. Speaking engagements, endorsements, etc.)

  • OPTIONA: Will you give the coach the right to endorse any product, service or company? You may want to give the coach the freedom to endorse any products so long as they do not result in a conflict of interest.
  • OPTION B: Will you "own" the rights to the coach's image and likeness and only allow certain endorsements? On the other hand, you may want to limit endorsements to products, services, or companies approved by the institution.
  • NCAABylaw 11.2.2 - Be sure to review this Bylaw as it relates to compensation. NCAArules control.
  • Use of institution marks. Decide whether or not the coach may use trademarks owned by or licensed to the institution in association with any endorsements, speaking engagements, or other avenues of supplemental income.
  • Waiver of liability. This type of clause will release the institution from liability associated with the coach's actions when engaged in these types of ventures.
  • Media
    • Is the coach compensated for TV show, radio program, or internet site produced in connection with employment as university coach?
  • Summer camps
  • Contracts and other deals- For example, may the coach be compensated for assisting with a contract for an apparel deal?
  • Note on outside income: Make employee report outside income.

Examples of Compensation Clauses

V. Termination

In addition to the termination date you include in the Terms section of your contract, a separate section outlining when the coach may otherwise be terminated prior to the end date of the contract is important. What types of acts will trigger termination by the institution?Under what circumstances can the coach terminate the contract prior to the set date? For each section below, consider these questions and outline the reasons why the Agreement might be prematurely terminated and the procedure for such termination. Including a liquidated damages provision (a provision that outlines what damages will be in the event of termination or breach) is helpful.

  • By University.
  • Death &Disability of Coach. (the University must be sure to define different levels of disability)
  • Just Cause.
    • The University must determine which transgressions will trigger a "just cause" termination (see the contracts listed below for examples)
    • The coach then has a right to a grievance proceeding
      • Special hearing before University officials
      • Or a normal grievance proceeding pursuant to University procedures
  • Termination without Cause.
  • Buy out/opt out provisions
  • liquidated damages provisions
  • Form of notice - What type of notice must the coach give to the institution? Within what time frame?
  • Damages
  • Require coach to get permission prior to talking with other possible employers?
  • Termination by Coach.

Examples of Termination Clauses

VI. Miscellaneous Provisions

Examples of Miscellaneous Provisions



Additional Links:

Florida Coastal School of Law College Coaches Contracts Database
This database provides Excel spreadsheets by Conference detailing the terms and specifications of contracts within that Conference.


Recent Decisions:

O'Brien v. The Ohio State University

West Virginia University Board of Governors v. Rodriguez




  1. Martin Greenberg, College Coaching Contracts Revisited: A Practical Perspective, 12 MARQ. SPORTS L.REV. 127, 153-156 (2001)©Marquette University.
  2. Kevin Stangel, Protecting Universities Economic Interest: Holding Student-Athletes and Coaches Accountable for Willful Violations of NCAA Rules, 11 MARQ. SPORTS L. REV. 137 (2000)© Marquette University.
  3. Martin Greenberg, College Coaching Contracts Revisited: A Practical Perspective, 12 MARQ. SPORTS L. REV. 127, 156-171 (2001) ©Marquette University.
  4. Martin Greenberg, College Coaching Contracts Revisited: A Practical Perspective, 12 MARQ. SPORTS L. REV. 127, 171-208 (2001)©Marquette University.
  5. Martin Greenberg, College Coaching Contracts Revisited: A Practical Perspective, 12 MARQ. SPORTS L. REV. 127, 209-254 (2001) ©Marquette University
  6. Martin J. Greenberg, Termination of College Coaching Contracts: When Does Adequate Cause to Terminate Exist and Who Determines its Existence? 17 MARQ. SPORTS L.REV. 197 (2006)© Marquette University
  7. Martin Greenberg, College Coaching Contracts Revisited: A Practical Perspective, 12 MARQ. SPORTS L.REV. 127, 254-260 (2001)© Marquette University

*John A. White Model Contract prepared by T.Scott Varady &John Callison

For information tailored to assistant coaches' contracts, see Martin Greenberg & Jay S. Smith, A Study of Division I Assistant Football and Men's Basketball Coaches' Contracts, 18 MARQ. SPORTS L. REV. 25 (2007) © Marquette University; Martin Greenberg; Jay S. Smith.



This page is provided for educational purposes and only as a central space for various resources and information concerning drafting coaching contracts. The information provided is in no way to be considered legal advice, nor is the NCAA implying that any of these clauses are mandatory in the coaching contracts at NCAA institutions. The NCAA recommends college counsel be consulted before including the language in any of the sample clauses in a coach's contract.