Arkansas coach John L. Smith appears to have structured the bulk of his $850,000 salary to be paid after the likely end of his bankruptcy proceedings.
Smith, who was hired to a 10-month contract in April, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in early September. An amended filing last week showed the former Michigan State and Louisville coach has $40.7 million in liabilities and $1.3 million in assets.
Smith’s original letter of agreement in April called for him to be paid $425,000 in equal month installments from the university and the same amount from the athletic department’s fundraising arm, the Razorback Foundation.
His finalized contract, signed in July, shows Smith will receive $600,000 of his salary following the end of the regular season in December and into early next year – with $300,000 coming on Dec. 31 and the same amount on Feb. 23, 2013. The contract was signed a week after Smith acknowledged publicly to The Associated Press that he was facing bankruptcy as a result of land deals gone bad in Kentucky.
In the contract, only $250,000 of the salary is paid by the university while the rest comes from the Razorback Foundation in the two payments.
Smith has a meeting Friday with a long list of creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy court in Fayetteville, a day before the Razorbacks (2-4, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) host Kentucky. He was asked Monday if he approached the university about altering his payment schedule from the original letter of agreement, but he quickly sidestepped the question.
“I’ll comment on football,” Smith said. “I’d rather not comment on any of that. That’s not in my hands.”
Smith was then asked how his Friday meeting would impact his preparation for Saturday’s game with the Wildcats (1-5, 0-3).
“I’m preparing for Kentucky,” Smith said.
Arkansas athletic director declined comment through university spokesman Kevin Trainor on Monday. Trainor said it was common for the university to work with coaches and their representatives to structure payouts as they desired.
Once the Chapter 7 proceeding is complete, Smith will be released from the debts, assuming there are no ensuing complications.