The University of Wisconsin football team’s top two assistants had their contracts extended earlier this month, but their total salaries went in different directions.
Among a number of changes to both coaches’ contracts, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard will make just under $1 million each of the next two years — a raise of 25% — while run-game coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph’s pay dipped 6% to $675,000.
Contractually, Rudolph’s title was changed from associate head coach/offensive coordinator to run game coordinator/offensive line coach, though the team’s website still lists him as an associate head coach. UW coach Paul Chryst rearranged his coaching staff this offseason after the departures of three assistants, assuming quarterback coaching and play-calling duties, thereby altering Rudolph’s role.
Leonhard, who was close to accepting the defensive coordinator position with the Green Bay Packers in February, will be paid just under $600,000 annually from the UW Foundation. He will receive a family country club membership as part of his deal; those range from $7,000 to nearly $11,000 in the Madison area, not including extra fees covered by UW.
Both coaches were extended until Jan. 31, 2023, and their base salaries from UW rose from $300,000 to $400,000. Their shares of postseason bonuses will be calculated from a $500,000 salary level.
Requests for comment from UW officials on these moves were not answered.
Both coaches’ new contracts change the structure of their buyout clauses.
Leonhard’s contract no longer will end if Chryst leaves or is fired, and UW no longer will be obligated to pay the balance of Leonhard’s salary if he leaves after a Chryst departure.
The new deal also changes Leonhard’s buyout clauses to a flat $1 million as opposed to a sliding scale ranging from $2.4 million to $800,000 depending on the time remaining on the contract. Leonhard will owe UW $1 million if he leaves during his contract for positions other than an NFL head coach or defensive coordinator, or FBS head coach. UW will owe him $1 million if he is terminated without cause.
UW will owe Rudolph only what’s left on his contract if he’s terminated without cause, and Rudolph no longer will owe any buyout if he leaves during the contract.
Rudolph’s path to leave his post is certainly made easier in his new contract, though his close friendship with Chryst and track record as a successful recruiter on the offensive line makes that seem unlikely.