Penn State gives Bill O'Brien $935,000 raise


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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In January, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien scheduled an early news conference the first day Penn State faculty and students arrived back from their holiday break. He, of course, had spent the better part of his New Year's celebration fielding interest from NFL teams before electing to remain at Penn State.

Immediately, one of his main intentions for addressing the media and fans became clear: "I have never asked anybody for a raise," he said.

His claim countered a report from the Harrisburg Patriot-News, which suggested O'Brien was receiving a $1.3 million bonus for the upcoming year. O'Brien did say, however, "Look, six months down the road, if I get raise ... yeah, of course I'd like a raise. I'm just like everybody else."

Whether he asked for a raise is unknown, but it's about "six months down the road" and he's getting something similar -- a bonus. On Wednesday, Penn State released an updated version of O'Brien's contract, indicating a $935,279 bonus. His total salary for the upcoming year will be about $3.3 million, with the possibility of earning up to $200,000 more for incentives, such as winning the Big Ten or the school deeming the team's performance to have been good enough to play in a BCS game.

"In the face of tremendous adversity, Bill did a great job with all facets of the Penn State football program," athletic director Dave Joyner said in a news release. "This rightly recognizes Bill's outstanding achievements in guiding our student-athletes on and off the field."

In his original contract, O'Brien was paid by Penn State a base salary of $950,000 per year, plus $1 million for TV and radio appearances and $350,000 for a Nike apparel deal, coming to a total of $2.3 million annually.

His base salary was set to rise by 5 percent for each year of his contract. This new bonus, however, makes his annual base salary rise by $935,279, in addition to that 5 percent.

Thus, his base salary for this year will be $1,932,779. The apparel and TV/radio portions of his contract will stay the same, bringing his total salary for this upcoming year to $3,282,779.

For now, this is a one-time raise. In 2014, his base salary will drop down to $1,137,096 and his total compensation will be around $2.5 million.

His salary of $3.3 million for the upcoming season will make him the third-highest-paid coach in the Big Ten, behind Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. If salaries from last season -- gathered by USA Today -- remain constant, O'Brien will be the 11th-highest-paid coach in the nation.

Penn State is giving O'Brien the bonus at a time when the athletic department is facing financial difficulties. In April, statistics released by the university revealed that the athletic department's surplus was about $1 million, compared to $15 million the year before, and that although football donations increased nearly fourfold, overall donations to the athletic department decreased 26 percent from the previous year.

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Mark Dent: mdent@post-gazette.com, 412-439-3791 and Twitter @mdent05 First Published June 20, 2013 6:15 PM


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