University of Alabama football fans yearning to see coach Nick Saban’s signature on his contract may not have to wait much longer.
University president Robert Witt, who is attending this week’s Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings at the Hilton Sandestin Beach resort, indicated Thursday evening that there are no remaining roadblocks to the deal.
“The final details are being worked out," Witt said to The Tuscaloosa News before a ceremony honoring SEC student-athletes, including Alabama baseball player Emeel Salem.
“All the key elements have been agreed to," Witt said.
Saban, who attended his first SEC Spring Meetings in three years earlier this week, said that he is happy with the way his contract negotiations have been handled.
“I’m in 100 percent agreement with Dr. Witt," Saban said in a statement released exclusively to The Tuscaloosa News. “I’m pleased and happy with the way the university has handled the negotiations, and I am hopeful we’ll have it completed very soon."
The Tuscaloosa News has learned that the final items that were holding up Saban’s signature have been endorsements, which ultimately make up a large percentage of Saban’s total compensation package in the form of a multi-million dollar “talent fee."
When asked specifically about any endorsement-related snags in the negotiating process, Witt said: “All of the key elements have been agreed on, they’re just dotting Is and crossing Ts. There’s no disagreement."
UA Director of Athletics Mal Moore echoed Witt’s opinion.
“All of the major issues have been agreed upon and we’re just working on a few minor details," Moore said in a statement to The Tuscaloosa News. “I am very optimistic that we will have things completed very shortly."
When he was hired Jan. 3 after a tumultuous two-year stint with the Miami Dolphins, Saban agreed in principle to an eight-year contract worth more than $30 million, or roughly $4 million a year, that will make him the highest-paid coach in college football history.
Saban was earning about $4.5 million with the Dolphins. Before that, he was the coach at LSU and led the Tigers to the 2003 BCS national championship.
When finalized, both Saban’s contract and those of his assistant coaches will be submitted to the University System Board of Trustees’ compensation committee for approval.
Saban’s Memphis-based agent, Jimmy Sexton, was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Contracts left unsigned have been an issue for UA’s athletics department before.
Former coach Dennis Franchione abruptly departed after the 2002 season without signing a lucrative contract extension offer that would have kept him at Alabama for 10 more years.
Moore was blamed in some circles for not enticing Franchione to sign the new contract, while others believe that Franchione had no intention of signing before he bolted for Texas A&M.
His successor, Mike Price, was fired four months after being announced as head coach. He had not inked his name on a reported $10 million, seven-year contract and as a result, was denied severance pay.
Mike Shula, announced as head coach days after Price’s dismissal, didn’t take long to sign. UA trustees approved his contract six weeks after he was named head coach.
Story Courtesy: AP Wire Reports
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