Bobby Wilder held up the key to his office Friday and declared that he’s never taken for granted a single day that he’s unlocked the door since he’s been a football coach at Old Dominion.
“I’ve been here 3,695 days, and I really want to use this key on day 3,696,” he said.
Wilder can use it for another five seasons if all goes well after signing a contract extension that will run through 2021.
The contract includes a $100,000 raise, to $650,000 per season, according to a copy the school provided.
Wilder will be paid a base salary of $234,068 and an additional $100,000 for appearing on his radio show. ODU will supplement his pay with $315,932 that will come from private donors.
Although Wilder ranks ninth in compensation among Conference USA coaches, his contract offers an incentive clause that would increase his annual salary based on the team’s performance.
His pay rises $25,000 per season if the Monarchs win seven Football Bowl Subdivision games. If Wilder wins 10 FBS games, his pay will increase by $100,000.
That clause does not include victories over Football Championship Subdivision schools or bowl victories.
“We feel like we’ve got the best coach in Conference USA, but we needed to be fiscally responsible,” athletic director Wood Selig said. “If he continues to be successful, he will be able to elevate himself to the top of the conference” in pay.
Selig said that any future pay increases will also be funded from private donations.
“They won’t come from the university or from student fees,” he said.
The contract signing breaks a 3½-month standoff between Wilder and the university. The sides had agreed to terms on a new five-year contract in mid-December, according to sources, but the deal fell apart over job security for Wilder’s assistant coaches.
Wilder wanted several assistants to have two-year contracts and receive significant pay increases. Wilder said seven assistants will sign two-year contracts this month.
Wilder said his relationships with President John Broderick and Selig remain strong despite the public nature of the contract standoff.
“A good deal is a deal that works for both sides,” he said. “Sometimes, both sides are trying to figure out what’s good for them, what’s best for both sides.
“And I really feel coming out of this that this is a good deal for both sides. I don’t have any concerns moving forward with the phenomenal relationships” with Broderick and Selig.
If Wilder is fired “without cause” after next season, he would receive a $1.5 million payment. The payment gradually declines to $300,000 in 2021. If he leaves for another school after next season, he must pay ODU $500,000, a figure that falls each year to $100,000 in 2021.
Wilder’s exit fee is modest by FBS standards. Selig said he was comfortable with that because “Bobby has been so loyal to our program. He’s been our head coach for 10 years.”
Wilder built ODU’s program from scratch. He was hired as coach in 2007 and his first-team finished 9-2 in 2009. Last season was ODU’s best; the Monarchs finished 10-3 and defeated Eastern Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl.
At times emotional Friday, Wilder said he has tried to earn his contract every day.
“My thoughts never change,” he said. “I always feel like I’m on a day-to-day contract.”
Wilder said he is satisfied with his pay and told a story about standing in line while he was a part-time assistant at Maine to collect a weekly $90 unemployment check.
“To get a pay raise like I’m receiving, this is more money, back in 1990 or 1991, than I ever dreamed I would make.”
Wilder has won 67 of 97 games at ODU, which has sold out all 54 games played at Foreman Field.
With 16 starters returning, ODU is expected to be one of the top-rated teams in C-USA this fall.
Wilder has been coaching under a contract signed in 2013. He and his agent, Dennis Cordell, turned down a new contract last spring. Cordell said they did so in hope of getting a better deal following the 2016 season.
Wilder’s verbal deal with ODU in December called for him to be paid $650,000.
His new contract does not mention two-year contracts for his assistant coaches. He and Selig said details of those contracts have yet to be worked out.
Wilder said the length of time it took to conclude a new deal does not indicate a rift with ODU officials, or that he is any less committed to the school.
“When this initially started, we were getting ready for a bowl game,” he said. “Then, everyone was on the holidays. Everyone needed to catch their breath for a minute. After five months of working seven days a week, I was trying to get some time with my family, and then I was on the road recruiting.
“I wasn’t personally concerned about it. Once we got through the ballgame, and the win and the excitement, I knew it was going to work out.
“It was just a matter of time.”
Wilder noted that he’s worked at just two schools during a 28-year career as a full-time coach.
“I hope to be the coach here a long time into the future,” he said.
Posted on: Mar 31, 2017, at 5:00 PM