Mel Pearson's 5-year contract, signed on May 26th, is worth $1.5 million in salary and monetary incentives as well as other fringe benefits. A source has made available information obtained via a Michigan Freedom of Information Act inquiry. The contract is explicit on the intent to rebuild the program. In the contracts first year Pearson's salary is $250,000 as well as $25,000 signing bonus paid on June 1st. After his first season, his salary will increase to $275,000 annually for the four remaining years. Upon fulfilling the length of the contract he will receive a lump sum of $125,000 in deferred compensation. Along with his salary and other monetary compensation he will receive other fringe benefits, including the opportunity to earn extra compensation through the Hockey Development Center and other university approved sources. The following fringe benefits are also included:
- Two tickets to all Michigan Tech athletic events
- Individual use of the Student Development Complex
- A single membership to the Portage Lake Golf Course
The contract further states academic and athletic achievement incentives may be implemented from time to time.
Due to the at-will employment status established by the contract, both the University or Pearson may end the contract at anytime. However, consequences may occur. If the contract is terminated by the University due to "substantial failure" by Pearson, Michigan Tech will be no longer obligated to compensate the head coach. For any other reason, the University will pay up to two years salary. However, if less than 24 months remain, the remaining salary will be paid. Also, the deferred compensation will be paid in one lump sum equaling $25,000 for each year of service. Being paid out in equal monthly payments, the stipend above can be reduced to 90% if Pearson obtains similar employment during the payout period.
Finally, if Pearson were to resign at any time he would be required to pay an early termination stipend to the university. If this would occur in the first year of the contract the coach would be required to pay $275,000 within one year of resignation. This amount reduces by $25,000 for each year of service during the contract. Also, any deferred compensation would be forfeited.
Mel Pearson's contract makes him one of highest base salaried, if not the head coach with the highest base salary in the WCHA. Though other markets have stronger potential for more income, such as from media outlets, the contract is among the upper tier in college hockey. All in all the University and their donors have made a strong statement in college hockey that they are indeed serious about a rebirth of the hockey program.