Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker on Wednesday agreed to a 10-year deal worth $95 million to remain with the Spartans, the school announced.
The new contract, which made headlines around college football last week leading up to the Spartans’ game at Ohio State, makes Tucker one of the highest paid coaches in the sport and comes four days before Michigan State closes its regular season.
Tucker can thank a group of Spartans donors — Mat Ishbia, Steve St. Andre, Brian Mosallam and Jason Strayhorn — who gathered to help complete the deal this month, as Michigan State takes a turn toward recruiting.
“Every day I wake up feeling humbled to be the Head Football Coach at Michigan State,” Tucker wrote in a letter posted on his official Twitter account. “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.”
Tucker’s contract is fully guaranteed. His buyout to leave Michigan State remains unchanged from his original contract: $2.5 million with annual decreases by $500,000.
The news comes five days after the Spartans dropped a 56-7 decision at Ohio State, Tucker’s second loss in his last three games after Michigan State opened the year at 8-0. The surprising start landed the Spartans (9-2) in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings before ultimately dropping.
“This is a process to build a championship-winning program,” he wrote in his social media post. “A process that drives us to be better. A process that demands relentless soul and grit. A process that requires the support from Spartans across the globe. I am honored to be a part of the Spartan process today, and for years to come.”
Clearly, the Big Ten school believes in that process.
“Mel Tucker has been an outstanding addition to our Spartan Athletic program,” university president Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., said in the school’s announcement. “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.”
According to the school’s news release, Tucker’s contract includes “non-performance related compensation of $9.5 million per year, including a $5.9 million base, $3.2 million in supplemental compensation for media and personal appearances, plus a $400,000 contingent annual bonus. The contract expires on January 15, 2032.”
Only Alabama’s Nick Saban, one of Tucker’s mentors, who makes $9,753,221 a year, is paid more on an annual basis, according to the USA Today coaches’ salaries database. And Tucker’s 10-year deal puts him in select company with two other coaches on the same term: Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher. Swinney’s contract is worth $92 million and Fisher’s deal will pay him more than $9 plus million a year, starting in 2022.
Last week, Tucker said Michigan State is a destination job and that he never intended to “just pass through” on his way to another program.
Speaking on The Draymond Green Show with Green, a former basketball star at Michigan State now with the Golden State Warriors, Tucker made his first comments last week since the Detroit Free Press reported the two sides were working on the eventual final terms.
“I made it clear in my initial press conferences that I thought Michigan State was a destination job and not a stepping stone,” Tucker, in his second season in East Lansing, Michigan, told Green, who played for the Spartans from 2008-2012. “It was never my intention to come here and just pass through. I believe that we’re building something special here. I have tremendous support here to do that, and we’re on the right track.”
Tucker, 49, mentioned his roots in the Big Ten as a former Wisconsin player and a native of Cleveland who started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State for then-coach Nick Saban. He also spent 2001 to 2004 as a defensive assistant at Ohio State.
Tucker’s original deal was scheduled to run through the 2024 season, carrying a $5.56 million annual salary. In February 2020, he was hired after only one season at Colorado to replace longtime Spartans coach Mark Dantonio.
Tucker’s name had been mentioned as a potential candidate for the coaching vacancy at LSU, which announced Oct. 17 that coach Ed Orgeron would not return in 2022.
The Spartans will close the regular season on Saturday, seeking their 10th win, with a home game against Penn State (7-4).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.