University of Missouri

Mizzou, Cuonzo Martin’s marriage ironclad during first four years

Cuonzo Martin introduced as Missouri men's basketball coach

Cuonzo Martin spoke at an introductory press conference on Monday, March 20, 2017, at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.
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Cuonzo Martin spoke at an introductory press conference on Monday, March 20, 2017, at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

Missouri and new men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin are married to each other for the foreseeable future based on the terms of a seven-year, $21 million deal, which were revealed Monday with the release of a memorandum of understanding.

There’s virtually no escape for either side during the first four years.

Contractually, the Tigers can’t fire Martin, who was hired Wednesday and formally introduced Monday during a press conference at Mizzou Arena, without cause until May 1, 2020.

That late-spring timing all but ensures Mizzou will ride with Martin through at least 2020-21, especially since he’s owed a $6 million buyout from May 1, 2020, until April 30, 2021.

That figure drops to $3 million the next year, $1 million a year after that and $300,000 during the final year between May 1, 2023, and April 30, 2024.

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If Missouri wins 20 games or reaches the NCAA Tournament at any time during Martin’s tenure, the schedule for when the school can terminate without cause — a fancy term for the Tigers not winning enough games — pushes back one year, as does the $6 million buyout.

A subsequent NCAA appearance would mean MU can’t fire Martin without cause until May 1, 2022, and would owe a $6 million buyout in the sixth year of the contract and $3 million in the seventh.

If Martin — who was 186-121 in nine seasons with Missouri State, Tennessee and, most recently, California — leads the Tigers to another NCAA tourney berth after that, the schedule pushes back a year again.

Martin’s contractual commitment is equally substantial.

If he leaves before April 30, 2018, Martin would owe Missouri a lump sum of $10.5 million.

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From there, it drops to $7.5 million until April 30, 2019; $5 million until April 30, 2020; $3 million until April 20, 2021; and continues to taper down from there.

Again, the cost and timing — few schools would be willing to fork over $5 million, and even fewer would wait until May to poach a coach — all but ensures Martin will remain in Columbia through at least the 2020-21 season.

Martin’s buyout isn’t affected by the team’s results in the same way the university’s obligations are.

Meanwhile, Martin’s salary will taper up each year of the deal, which includes a $300,000 annual base salary each year.

With supplemental income, Martin will receive $2.7 million in total guaranteed compensation next season. His guaranteed salary goes up $100,000 each year, topping out at $3.3 million during the 2023-24 season.

Martin also receives a country club membership, two courtesy cars, a Mizzou Arena suite at home basketball games and six premium tickets for each home football game.

New Missouri men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin was introduced during a news conference on Monday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

The football tickets convert to a suite in the proposed south end zone facility at Memorial Stadium after it opens, which is projected to be in time for the 2019 season.

Martin also has $605,000 in incentives, plus a $1.1 million salary pool for basketball-specific staff — understood to mean three assistant coaches, a strength and conditioning coach, a director of basketball operations and a director of video operations.

Last season, former coach Kim Anderson’s salary pool for assistant coaches was $900,000.

There is another $110,000 available for graduate-assistants and part-time support staff.

Mizzou athletics provides a full-time athletic trainer, an executive assistant and also designates a nutritionist, media relations assistant and equipment assistant.

Finally, the Tigers agreed to pay Martin’s $1.1 million buyout to escape the contract extension he signed with California in October, will pay up to $30,000 in moving expenses and agree to provide up to three months of transitional housing at no charge.

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