Christmas Eve, the Miami Herald reported that “the next head coach at FIU will be Butch Davis.”
A short time later, FIU athletic director Pete Garcia, who played Alfred to Davis’ Bruce Wayne during their time with the Cleveland Browns last decade, quickly and vehemently shot down the story, labeling it “totally false.”
According to Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com, FIU is indeed “set to sign Davis to a multiyear contract averaging roughly $500,000 a season.” The holdup? Davis’ previous employer.
Davis was fired by the Tar Heels a month before the start of the 2011 season in the midst of a scandal involving impermissible benefits to football players as well as academic improprieties. As part of his “severance package,” Davis is still owed $1.77 million from the university as part of the buyout written into his contract, with $590,000 payable every Jan. 15 from 2013 through 2015.
Simply put, as Marvez writes, “UNC doesn’t want to pay the money if Davis accepts another coaching position.” Normally there are offsets written into a head coach’s contract, with any buyout number lowered — or “offset” — by the amount of money he makes at his next coaching job. The specific language written into Davis UNC contract and how it deals with future coaching employment offsetting any outstanding buyout dollars is unknown.
Marvez reports that Davis found himself in a similar position earlier this year when Greg Schiano was interested in putting him on his Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff. Davis and the Bucs got around that contractual stumbling block by giving the 61-year-old “the title ‘Special Assistant to the Head Coach’ so he wouldn’t forfeit money owed by North Carolina by accepting a traditional staff position.”
Obviously, that won’t be an option in this situation, and how soon Davis, FIU and UNC can get past this contractual obstacle remains the great unknown.