Michigan State made a lucrative, long-term investment in its football coach.
Mel Tucker signed a 10-year, $95 million contract extension, the university officially announced Wednesday night. The move came with Tucker late in a resurgent season leading the program.
The deal will make Tucker, 49, the second-highest paid college football coach in the nation, behind only Alabama’s Nick Saban. Michigan State alumni Mat Ishbia and Steve St. Andre are chipping in to fund the raise.
“Every day I wake up feeling humbled to be the Head Football Coach at Michigan State,” Tucker said in a statement. “It is my privilege to work alongside our student-athletes, coaches and staff who embody our culture of hard work, discipline, and excellence – on and off the field.”
The contract extension is pending approval from Michigan State’s Board of Trustees but that appears to be a lock.
“The Board of Trustees fully supports a new contract for Coach Tucker,” Dianne Byrum, chairperson of the trustees, said in a statement. “We are very happy with his success at Michigan State University and the renewed excitement for our football program among the Spartan Community.”
The announcement from the university said Tucker’s contract features “non-performance related compensation” of $9.5 million a year, with a $5.9 million base, $3.2 million in supplemental compensation for media and personal appearances, along with a $400,000 contingent annual bonus.
The contract ends January 15, 2032. Other contract terms, including buyout numbers, weren’t released by the university.
“Mel Tucker has been an outstanding addition to our Spartan Athletic program,” Michigan State president Samuel Stanley said in a statement. “In less than two years, his leadership has already resulted in a program competing for top honors, and I’m impressed by his intensity and drive. Spartan fans around the country are enjoying the success of this year’s football program and we look forward to many more successful seasons, competing at the highest levels under Coach Tucker.”
Tucker’s statement thanked Ishbia, St. Andre, Stanley, athletic director Alan Haller, basketball coach Tom Izzo, and former Michigan State football players Brian Mosallam and Jason Strayhorn. Mosallam is a former member of the board of trustees and Strayhorn is a radio analyst for the program.
“The mentorship and friendship of Mat Ishbia, Steve St. Andre, Brian Mosallam and Jason Strayhorn – particularly during this process – has been invaluable to me. It is a process to build a championship-winning program,” Tucker said in the statement. “A process that drives us to be better. A process that demands relentless soul and grit. And a process that requires support from Spartans across the globe.
“I am honored to be a part of the Spartan process today, and for years to come.”
Signing Tucker to an extension is a major move by Haller, a former Michigan State defensive back who took over as athletic director in September. He has been around the program daily and has a strong relationship with Tucker.
“The decision to extend Mel Tucker’s contract is not based on one year of results, but rather it’s an investment in a promising future for Spartan football,” Haller said in a statement. “Since his hire in February 2020, the program has experienced high levels of success in three key areas: student-athlete development – on and off the field, recruiting momentum and donor and alumni base engagement and support. Mel has brought an energy to this program which has benefitted not only our athletic department, but also the university and the surrounding community.”
Tucker is in his second season leading the No. 12 Spartans (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) and spearheaded a surprise turnaround heading into the regular-season finale on Saturday against Penn State. A loss at Ohio State last week knocked them out of contention for a Big Ten title but they can still reach a New Year’s Six Bowl game. Tucker is also the first Michigan State coach to start 2-0 against Michigan.
“Some of the greatest success we’ve had as a basketball program at Michigan State has come when the football team has experienced its own success,” Izzo said in a statement. “Simply put, when football is successful, it makes our entire department better – it helps recruiting, it benefits fundraising, everyone just has more Spartan pride.
“There’s no question that Mel and his team are having a great season. It’s been fun, not only to watch them play, but also to talk to the team when Mel’s invited me to do so. It’s very apparent something special is happening in the football building and I’m excited to be a part of it.
“In Mel, I think we have a driven, no-nonsense coach who I’m happy will be around us for the next 10 years. We have recruited, fundraised and are building a friendship which I think will help Michigan State be in a position to be one of the premier programs in the country.”
Tucker was hired away from Colorado in February 2020 to replace Mark Dantonio, who retired after 13 seasons leading the program. Michigan State more than doubled his salary with a six-year contract featuring a $5.5 million annual base salary.
Michigan State posted a 2-5 record in a pandemic-altered season last year and has vastly exceeded expectations this fall. That led to Tucker being linked as a potential target at LSU and ultimately resulted in the Spartans making a move to keep him.
Tucker, a Cleveland native and former defensive back at Wisconsin, began his coaching career at Michigan State in 1997 as a graduate assistant under Saban. He has 25 years of experience, including 10 in the NFL, and won national titles while on staff at Ohio State and Alabama.
In his first season as a full-time head coach, Tucker posted a 5-7 record at Colorado in 2019. Then Dantonio retired and Michigan State hired him away to return to East Lansing. He’s now one victory away from becoming the fastest coach in program history to post 10 wins in a season.
Ishbia, a former basketball player for the Spartans, is the chairman, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage and announced a $32 million donation to the athletic department in February with $20 million going to the expansion of the football facilities. St. Andre is the CEO of Shift Digital, a digital marketing company. Michigan State also announced a $10 million private commitment to fund renovations to the football facilities earlier this month.
“Matt and Saint are quiet and humble guys,” Mosallam said in a text. “I put their names out there because of their love and admiration for Mel and MSU. They never asked for this attention. I put their names out there because this is bigger than them and Mel. This is a message sent to the college football world about where we stand in this moment in time. It speaks for itself.”
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