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Coastal Carolina, Bennett agree to $925,000 buyout
Coastal Carolina University and former football coach David Bennett have agreed on a $925,000 buyout of Bennett’s contract, according to a copy of the agreement released by the university Monday afternoon.
Bennett was relieved of his coaching duties on Dec. 9 after leading the Chanticleers’ program through its first nine seasons, and at the time there was talk of a potential reassignment of the longtime coach to another role within the university. That never came to fruition, though, and lawyers for the two sides had been negotiating as to how much was still owed on a 10-year contract he signed in May of 2007.
With the matter finally resolved, the university released statements from both parties Monday, and addressed the source of the buyout funds and said there would be no further comment from either side.
“In anticipation of this buyout, monies were earmarked and set aside from a long-standing discretionary auxiliary account that includes no funds from tuition, gifts or state appropriated dollars,” the university statement read.
Bennett’s 10-year contract paid him an initial base salary of $160,000 with annual eight-percent raises. He earned a base salary of $218,139 for the 2011-12 year, according to information released by the university in December, and the terms of the contract had called for the coach to receive the full amount of the remaining annual base salary existing at the time of termination if he was let go within the first five years of that deal. If after five years, then he was to be owed 50 percent.
While Bennett had coached through five seasons of the contract, the pact was not yet five calendar years old – a point that perhaps factored into drawing out the negotiations. His announced buyout total equates to $185,000 per the five remaining years on the deal.
The agreement released Monday listed March 23 as Bennett’s last day as a CCU employee. Bennett signed the agreement on March 28, and CCU President David DeCenzo added his signature April 2.
The university said that beyond the enclosed statements, the terms of the agreement prohibit further comment from either side.
Former CCU president Ron Ingle, meanwhile, said he was happy both sides can “move ahead” now.
“I’m glad they were able to come up with a resolution,” said Ingle, who was president of CCU when Bennett signed the contract. “That seems like it’s fair for the institution and fair for David, and I’m glad to see they’re able to resolve this.”
Ingle was also president of CCU when Bennett was hired and he said they remain friends to this day.
“When I hired David I asked him to build a program, and he did,” Ingle said. “I know he’s proud of the program, and I am too but life moves on. The program is, I think, in good shape now and will do well in the future.”
CCU athletics booster Marshall Biddle, the son of university trustee Larry Biddle and a supporter of Bennett who tried to stage a rally for the former coach in the wake of his dismissal, said he too is satisfied in the agreement announced Monday.
“I’m glad that the university did the right thing,” Biddle said. “Obviously, he probably left some money on the table or something to that effect, but I think for Dave Bennett, he got it done, made the decision and moved on. And I think it was the right thing to do for them to pay him.”
Bennett went 63-39 in his nine seasons, including four Big South Conference championships and two Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances, but was just 29-28 over the last five years.
The buyout packet included a signed non-disparagement agreement for both sides, which included the Bennetts, the CCU trustees, DeCenzo and his wife, CCU executive vice president Eddie Dyer and his wife, athletic director Hunter Yurachek and his wife and university counsel Tim Meacham and his wife.
The university’s statement goes on to read:
“The University expresses its appreciation to Coach Bennett for all he has done to initiate and build the institution’s football program and reiterates its long-held belief that it could not have found a better coach or person to accomplish that task. He also set the bar high for service to the community and for the mentoring of the young men in his charge to live lives of faith as servant leaders. President David DeCenzo, speaking for the institution, wishes Coach Bennett well in his every future endeavor and affirms that Coach Bennett will remain a valued member of the Coastal family.”
Bennett’s statement reads:
“Our family has been BLESSED with our time at Coastal Carolina University. Hayes and Jeb (his children) have grown up in beautiful Horry County and we wouldn’t trade anything for that. Thank you to President Ron Ingle and Athletic Director Moose Koegel for hiring us. Thank you to the faculty, staff, students, university supporters and student athletes – WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU! Thank you to the High School Coaches for believing in our vision and entrusting your young men to us! We wish Coastal Carolina the very best in the future and thank you again for making such an impact on our lives.”
By Ryan Young, The Sun News