Are Reassignment Clauses Underutilized in College Coaching Contracts?

At the end of the last college football season, I was asked an interesting question regarding the use of reassignment clauses in collegiate coaching contracts:

If a coach is “under-performing” but is under contract with a school, why not reassign the coach rather than terminate the coach?  Why pay the remainder of the coach’s contract or buyout the coach when he or she could be reassigned within the athletic department?

Referee-type-whistle-CS19Here are my thoughts:

A school can only reassign a coach if it has the contractual right to do so, or if the coach agrees to the reassignment. A reassignment clause is more likely to be found in the contracts of assistant coaches, rather than head coaches.  Typically, head coaches have the leverage to refuse the inclusion of a reassignment clause during contract negotiation.

Providing that a school has the contractual right to reassign a coach, it might exercise such a clause for any of the following reasons:

  • to take advantage of the coach’s abilities in a different role;
  • to save money by having the coach fill a need in the athletic department; or
  • for strategic purposes with the hope that the coach will resign rather than accept reassignment, relieving the school of any buyout obligation.

Of course a school must be careful evaluate whether the reassignment of a coach to another role in the athletic department might undermine the efforts of the new coach to lead the program.

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