Herm Edwards’ dismissal could be complicated by the football program’s pending investigation into alleged recruitment violations.
TEMPE, Arizona — Arizona State University’s firing of football coach Herm Edwards could put the school at risk for a multi-million buyout of the remainder of Edwards’ contract.
Edwards is off the field, but he has a significant interest in some off-field business: an NCAA investigation into his football program.
It appears that any purchase by Edwards could depend on the direction of this investigation.
$9.4 million purchase?
Under Edwards’ contracts – the original in 2017 and an extension in 2020 – if he is unfairly fired, he will be entitled to an estimated $9.4 million purchase of the remaining two years and three months, through December. of 2024.
The university declined to confirm that number.
Edwards’ annual salary this year, excluding benefits, was $3.9 million. The unpaid balance of his contract this year is estimated at $975,000.
He was due to receive $4.1 million in 2023 and $4.3 million in 2024.
Edwards was fired on Sunday after a humiliating Saturday night home loss to Eastern Michigan University, three games into his fifth season.
Like college football coaches in many states, Edwards is Arizona’s highest-paid state employee.
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‘Neutral dereliction of duties’
Anderson used a legally safe understatement when describing the status of his obviously fired football coach: “We have agreed to neutral waiver of duties.”
He added, “We’ll have to work through what all this means at the end of the day.”
Here’s what could be blocking a purchase:
ASU awaits news on sanctions
The ASU football team is under investigation by the NCAA for allegedly hosting high school recruits on campus during the pandemic, after the NCAA banned the practice.
ASU is still awaiting news on potential NCAA sanctions.
Several coaches left the team as a result of the investigation, and recruitment suffered.
The investigation became public 15 months ago, in June 2021. When it will end is just a guess at this point.
In February, ASU President Michael Crow defended Edwards:
“Coach Edwards is responsible for all of his people’s actions, but these are things he didn’t ask them to do. These are not things he was a part of.”
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NCAA violations would block the purchase
If the NCAA comes to a different conclusion – that Edwards played a role in the alleged violations – ASU may not have to pay for the multimillion purchase. In fact, Edwards would not be entitled to any payment.
Edwards’ contract allows the school to fire him “for cause” for a variety of offenses, including:
“Significant or repeated violation of NCAA or conference law… related to the program by an assistant coach, other program personnel, or a program student athlete, and (i) the violation occurs or continues to occur after the coach knows either should have known it was about to occur or was occurring, or (ii) the Coach failed to establish and maintain reasonable policies and procedures for the Program to prevent violations.”
‘to be determined’
Anderson, a former NFL executive who hired Edwards as a head coach in 2017 and was his agent when Edwards was in the NFL, declined to answer reporters’ questions Monday about Edwards’ status.
On Sunday, Anderson rejected questions about the NCAA investigation.
“I’m not commenting on the investigation and how it affects us, if it affects us and how it might affect us going forward,” Anderson said.
“To be determined,” he said.
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