CHARLOTTESVILLE –When he was introduced as Virginia’s next football coach last week, Tony Elliott laid out his vision of what the program could become.
“To bring the vision to life, it’s going to take a tremendous amount of work and a ton of commitment,” said Elliott.
The university’s financial commitment to Elliott is considerable.
He will earn $4.1 million next season, the first of a six-year deal he agreed to with the university, according to a copy of the offer sheet the Richmond Times-Dispatch obtained through an open records request.
Elliott, who replaces Bronco Mendenhall, who will coach the team in next week’s Fenway Bowl before stepping down, signed the offer sheet on Dec. 10.
It lists the coach’s annual base pay as $500,000 and his annual supplemental pay as $2.5 million, plus $1 million in licensing and $100,000 in deferred payments.
Elliott’s payment goes up $150,000 every other year, reaching $4.55 million in 2027.
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The offer sheet also includes a $350,000 signing bonus and $40,000 in moving expenses.
The deal includes an $8 million buyout that drops by $2 million each year.
It is also set to extend automatically with either an ACC championship game appearance or a 10-win season.
At Clemson, where Elliott played and then coached, he became one of the nation’s highest paid assistant coaches, earning a reported $2 million this past season.
Mendenhall earned $3.5 million this past season, leading UVA to a 6-6 record. He announced his decision to step away from college football shortly after the team’s loss to rival Virginia Tech to end the regular season.
New Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry has a six-year deal with the Hokies set to pay him $4 million each of the first two seasons.
In addition to his annual guaranteed pay, Elliott can earn more in performance bonus. A trip to the ACC title game would earn him an extra $50,000, while a conference championship would bring in $100,000.
A bowl game would trigger a bonus of between $25,000 and $100,000 depending on the game, and a spot in the college football playoff would add $500,000 to Elliott’s pay that year.
A final ranking in the Top 25 would earn Elliott another $50,000, being in the top 20 would pay $75,000, the top 15 $100,000, the top 10 $125,000 and the top five $150,000.
If Elliott wins the ACC coach of the year award, he would receive a $75,000 bonus.
Elliott’s deal also includes a number of perks, including two cars provide by the Virginia Athletic Fund, a country club membership, a suite plus 10 season tickets for football games and eight season tickets for men’s basketball games.
The offer sheet does not address any commitment from UVA to increase the salary pool for Elliott’s coaching staff, nor does it guarantee any timeline for facility enhancements, two areas where UVA lags behind its ACC peers.
The topic of facilities came up during Elliott’s interviews with athletic director Carla Williams, and both of them addressed that during the introductory press conference.
“My staff tells me that I’m brutally honest, and I was with Tony about the facilities,” said Williams. “We know they’re important. We are going to have the facility here soon. But there’s a lot that goes into building a championship program, a championship culture, and I’m looking forward to getting started on that.”
Elliott said his focus is on building his team and program, work he believes can be done before ground is broken on any new facility.
“Young people want to see bricks and mortar,” said Elliott, “but we all know that’s not what makes a home. It’s people inside, so we’ve got to establish that first.”